On Writing

2012-04-04 2 min read

    I recently made an effort to improve my writing and this blog gives me a great way to practice. I force myself to write at least two posts a week, even if it’s just a paragraph. Writing hasn’t come easy to me and I spent more than 20 years returning the favor. In high school, I rarely edited and a quick spell and grammar check was good enough for me. In college, I avoided the writing-heavy classes and the ones I did take I just followed my high school approach. Something changed when I started working. Although initially driven by my desire to perform, I started seeing writing as a challenging, creative process. I remember spending 30 minutes on a paragraph-long email before being comfortable enough to send it out. Even after only a few weeks, I feel that my writing has gotten better - both in terms of speed and clarity. I still have trouble writing long posts since I tend to go on tangents and lose focus.

    An issue I’m currently dealing with is deciding when something is “done.” I could always spend more time editing and rewriting but should I? How much editing is a good use of my time? Jack Kerouac wrote the first draft of On The Road in three weeks and the final draft in 20 days. On the other hand, T. S. Eliot wrote The Waste Land over a few years, with the drafts being almost twice as long. I fall somewhere in between. I realize that I learn better through struggle and forcing myself to edit and rewrite helps me in the long term. At the same time, I realize that I have a ton of other things to do and rewriting the same paragraph a dozen times is not the best use of my time. At the moment, I write and rewrite until I’m proud of what I have and hope that it will get easier in the future. As frustrating as it can get, it’s significantly easier than what people were doing only 20 years ago before computers. This thought helps me focus and slowly work my way up to the fabled 10,000 hours.