Prolific Writing is a Skill

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Nobody is born a prolific writer. Go ahead. Give a newborn a crayon and paper and see how fast they can crank out a novel. I’ll wait here.

Back already? But seriously, writing must be learned. There can be no innate ability to write because it’s not that kind of skill. The only innate ability you need is enough intelligence to learn to read and write. With practice, you can only improve. That’s the first key to prolific writing. Practice. The more you write, the more you will be able to write.

The More You Write, the More You Will Be Able to Write

The more you write, the more you will be able to write. There. I’ve said it three times now. Don’t forget it. Don’t ignore it. If you truly want to be a prolific writer, take every opportunity you can get to write. When something needs to be written at work, volunteer. When you check your e-mails, answer immediately. If you don’t have one already, start a journal so you can write when you have nothing to say. Yes. Keep writing even when you have nothing worth writing about. You’re practising sentence structure, composition and spelling.

Once you have the writing habit, you will find yourself writing articles and longer pieces as a matter of course. The article you’re reading now was meant to be a short note on an article idea, but I kept writing until it became the article. Writing every day does that for me and it can do the same for you.

Like Any Skill, Study is the Key to Success

Just doing a lot of writing isn’t going to make you a great writer. You need to learn to spell correctly, to compose a sensible sentence and to write something that others will enjoy reading. If you’ve set a goal to become a prolific writer, it’s safe to assume you’re already a prolific reader. Keep books, articles, magazines, blogs and other material on writing in your reading list and you will become increasingly skilled as a writer.

It’s easy to fall into a routine of reading the same kinds of writing material. We grow comfortable with some kinds of writing tips and can’t quite get interested in others. That’s because we haven’t studied those other writing topics enough. If you recognize this problem for your own studies, now you have an action plan. To get the most benefit from studying how to write, choose the writing topics you’ve been avoiding. For me, it’s grammar. I never learned it in school. Instead, I picked it up reading thousands of books and play it by ear. I’m working on that.

Writing Doesn’t Need To Be Hard Work

Perfectionism has killed more writing careers than all the editors who have ever lived. Okay. I made that up, but I’d bet it’s true. If you try to sit down and write perfectly, you are going to be constantly held up looking for the right word to say next, the right idea to follow the last, the perfect flow for your writing… There are so many things that just don’t come out right the first time you write something. You need to kill your perfectionism, at least when you write the first draft of anything. And that’s the key; the multiple draft process.

When you use the multiple draft process, you give yourself a way around perfectionism. The first draft can be a mess as long as you get all of your ideas written out or the basic story in its proper sequence. The good writing can be saved for the second draft.

Almost all writers use multiple drafts. The first draft gets the writing done, but in a condition that isn’t good enough to be published. With the knowledge that you have enough material for an article, short story or book, you can go ahead and fix it up to where it’s good.

The simplest method is to read through the first version several times and make repairs with each read. The first time you revise, do it big. Look for major gaps and do some more first draft writing to fill them in quickly. With each new read through, make increasingly detailed repairs until you find that all you’re fixing is spelling and grammar. Then, do a final review specifically for spelling, grammar, sentence structure and readability. Now you have your final version. Easy, no?

Keep Finding More Mentors

Since you’re reading this, you already know that you need to keeping honing your writing skills. Whenever you seem to be learning nothing new from one source, find another. I know you read writing blogs. Have you read some books on writing? How about books on writing translated from another language? Another language implies another culture and the potential for new ways to visualize writing. There are also writers’ groups which can give you some interesting feedback as well as help make writing a more social activity. And don’t forget night courses in writing at universities and colleges in your area.

If you feel like you haven’t been learning any new writing skills lately, maybe it’s time to find a new source of learning. On the other hand, maybe you’re too busy writing. Even better.

Article by Ivan Izo.


One thought on “Prolific Writing is a Skill

  1. S.E. Gordon March 18, 2012 / 2:10 am

    To learn to write prolifically, one must first learn to listen.


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