Every year in every English class, my teachers repeated the same principle of writing: “The best way to become a better writer is to write.”
“Well, duh,” I thought to my already refined, all-knowing teenage self. Yet I wrote exclusively for the purpose of checking a class assignment off my to-do list or writing another paragraph in the ever-painful cover-letter battle.
As a longtime writer and future English major, I didn’t really need the extra practice, and I would work on my craft plenty in college, right? Ha.
This summer, though, I’ve set a goal to write every day, whether that means composing a series of related and/or funny tweets, updating my website bio or blogging. And inevitably, I’ve realized my teachers were right all along (and I’m extremely stubborn).
Though it took me a while to admit, I’m now able to write more efficiently, thanks to that teacher-ly advice. Before, I would expend up to an hour (or even two) crafting the perfect sentence. Yeah, I’m talking about a single sentence.
But after challenging myself to write every day, I’ve discovered I enjoy the act of spilling my thoughts onto the page (with a purpose, of course). For a lifelong perfectionist, that’s a big step.
Now that I don’t immediately have to find the ideal but ever-elusive synonym for “madness” (throwing it back to the year I studied revenge tragedies of the English Renaissance), I’m free to let the content of my writing reveal itself in an organic manner. Even if that organic writing inevitably leads to a few more, “What in the name of corn on the cob?” moments later in the revision/editing process.
Writing daily became a welcome habit more quickly than I expected — something that’s ingrained in my daily routine, much like tossing a random assortment of fruit into my beloved blender and calling it lunch.
I’ve skipped writing some days this summer, I admit, but every time, I feel a nagging emptiness, as though something is missing. My thoughts are more disorganized and unmoored.
Besides, when I abandon my writing challenge for a day or two, I miss valuable opportunities to say, “What in the name of corn on the cob?”