The only real, lasting way (that I know of) to become better at anything is to simply execute, repeatedly.
In other words, you must practice (and not give up). As you might imagine, I’ve spoken on this topic quite a few times, here, here, here, and here and here and the recipe for success is a love for learning, curiosity all-the-things.
This is the singular (and strongest) piece of advice that I have to offer someone when they specifically ask about anything related to writing: Just execute. Just write.
Outside of any technical advice, the meat and bones is really just starting and not stopping:
This one in particular is striking, especially since it’s really why I wanted to write this post in the first place:
Context: I was working my way through a few old posts and I published this one yesterday about a domain name (and landing pages that I make for them):
And I went down a huge rabbit-hole and discovered a few videos from 10+ years ago that I had created for one of the landing pages:
Here are the three videos that I found (get a good laugh in while you’re at it):
I remember how it took me hours to put together these three videos and I must have retaken the
Hello World one a dozen-or-so times! I simply wasn’t comfortable in front of the camera!
In other words, authenticity takes practice as well! One of my first “vlogs” was this one:
Compare that above video (*shudder*) to some of my videos that I’ve done more recently where I am much, much more comfortable in front of the camera and in front of other folks while I’m capturing video:
It takes time, commitment, repetition, and a continually “dying to oneself” to make a lot of these things possible.
And that’s kind of it. Want to become great at anything? Just go, stop wondering and speculating. Stop guessing:
“It is easy to get bogged down trying to find the optimal plan for change: the fastest way to lose weight, the best program to build muscle, the perfect idea for a side hustle. We are so focused on figuring out the best approach that we never get around to taking action”via James Clear, How to Be Great
Want more from James? His thoughts on George RR Martin are worth keeping close:
Focus. He writes on a computer without the internet, without social media, without apps or distractions or graphics. But his computer can do one very important thing: type words. And typing words is his craft. That’s what he needs to create. He is 100 percent focused on doing the work that matters and he has completely eliminated anything that impedes that goal.
Consistency. Martin was a working writer for twenty years before he sat down to write A Game of Thrones. He worked on shows that were canceled and found himself without a job. He wrote early books that flopped commercially. And I’m willing to bet that if A Song of Ice and Fire was a total dud, then he would have found another way to keep writing. He’s not just focused on writing when it’s easy. He’s focused on writing, plain and simple.
Patience. I’m sure Martin wanted to achieve glorious success and commercial fame just as quickly as we all do. I’m sure he would have liked his first book to sell 25 million copies. I’m sure he didn’t want to put in 20 years of work to find commercial success. The difference is that he didn’t let the urge for overnight success derail his commitment to daily work. The greatest display of patience is a continued commitment to the process when you’re not being rewarded for it yet.
And, for what purpose? To hone a useful craft:
Why? Because the world needs the value that you have yet to give and create for it. Let’s go.