If You Want To Be A Writer, Write Beyond Your Comfort Zone
the task of expanding your boundaries
Anyone can write.
We’ve all learned how to do that by the time we’ve reached 5th grade.
But the quality of a piece of prose is not the same. Some words, sentences, and paragraphs are better at capturing ideas and turning them into digital ink than others.
So what is it that makes your favorite writers better than you? What is it that they are doing and you’re not?
What is it that makes them effective at their craft?
It starts with a voice
I remember back in high school, there was a girl in class that always seemed to do well when it came to writing. I remember being envious of her.
But then I read some of her essays.
They had thoughts. They had ideas. They had opinions.
I could hear her in the words she chose.
Then I looked at mine — a 300-word struggle strung together with uncertainty and wondering what went wrong.
She could write a thousand words easily while the class moaned and groaned.
The difference between her and us was that we were all pretending — to know what we were doing, to sound like we had an opinion, to make it seem as if we stood for something.
She’d lose count of her words because she wasn’t counting.
We’d always struggle because we were paying to much attention to that than the actual thing we’re supposed to be doing.
She had a voice and she knew it. She wrote them down. She practiced speaking her words and capturing it on paper.
We were too busy trying to sound smart that we lost the chance to present our voice in the process.
The power of sentences
Simple sentences are not evil.
The best writers are simply writing what they see. They are translating the world from their perspective in a form that’s accessible for others.
Accessibility is the keyword here.
Because when you try to sound smart, you alienate your readers. Don’t block out readers from your world with your words.
Speak in their language. Simplify your thoughts. Say what you see.
How big is your vocabulary?
It’s one thing to write simply, it’s another to use the right words for the right situation.
When we write, we can fall into the trap of repeating the same word over and over again until it loses its meaning.
Repetition has its time and place.
Sometimes, it’s best not to do it in the same sentence.
Find a different word. Use a thesaurus. Learn some new words or ways to connect them up to help you describe the world you’re trying to construct.
Don’t overthink it. Just write something and upgrade from the scaffold you’ve created. Sometimes, it’s easier to make more out of something than nothing.
How deep is your understanding?
New writers slip into a pretentious state because they want to sound like an expert.
Embrace your lack of knowledge.
Acknowledge it if you must.
You only need to be an expert in the thing you’re writing about and nothing more.
There is always someone who knows less than you. Stick to what you know. Figure out how to make that clear.
Then go forth and educate yourself in the things you need to make yourself more an expert. Or practice the skills.
Document your journey if you’re stuck for ideas — write down the process and things you did, your assumptions and preconceptions. It’s one way to capture your expertise at a particular point in time.
It’ll let you look back on the improvements you’ve made and how far you’ve come.
Comfort zones matter
We all have comfort zones in writing.
Take a step back and figure out what they are. Is it the way you write your paragraphs? or the methods you use to get your ideas out? How are your sentences constructed?
Look back of you completed works and look at them for what they are.
Are your paragraphs large and long? Try condensing your thoughts on one line.
Are your sentences super simple and short? Try turning them on their heads with your creativity.
The point here is not to do what is right or what is wrong, rather it’s to do something different from your usual writing patterns.
You can take a look at how others are constructing their writing. Observe how they play with words and use them to paint pictures when you read. Observe their patterns and see if you can replicate it while retaining your voice.
It’s a writing exercise I do every now and then to keep my writing fresh. Changing the way I write gives me perspective. It also lets me evolve what’s in my wordsmithing repertoire.
The Final Take-Aways
Writing is a craft.
Anyone can write but the quality of a writer also depends on their ability to project their voice onto digital ink. This may feel like an uncomfortable task but it is part of becoming better than just proficient.
Sentences are easy. Words are cheap.
But the quality of their construction and what they represent is what makes a piece of writing stand out.
So find your voice, play with your sentences, choose to arrange your words a little bit differently and ignore the rules.
Figure out what works for you and then turn them over by doing something else. Keep turning them until you become a pro at writing by being a chameleon at your art and do things in your own unique style.