How do you make your writing shine?
This question has no satisfying answer. Or so I thought until I came across David Perell’s podcast featuring Seth Godin. Seth had an answer (yay!) that he attributed a conversation’s with the legendary Isaac Asimov.
Let’s get the record straight. Seth is probably the world’s most prolific blogger. He has written a daily post for over twenty years – that’s 7000 posts and counting. Asimov was the guy who bought “Robots” into the public imagination. He has over 500 books to his credit. These guys may well be called the “Gods of prodigious writing”.
Harking back to the Seth and Asimov conversation, we uncover a simple secret. Asimov started typing away at 6.30 am every day and would go on until noon. Inspiration, ideas, weather – nothing mattered. He just pounded away on his typewriter every single day.
Over a space of 40 years, I published an average of 1,000 words a day. Over the space of the second 20 years, I published an average of 1,700 words a day.Asimov, 1994
The best techniques are simple to learn and understand. It’s practising them over sustained periods that’s hard. Execution separates the Master from the wannabes.
How about the quality of our work? How can we captivate our readers?
Nicolas Barber from BBC has a tip in his superb piece on P.G.Wodehouse titled “The man who wrote the most perfect sentences ever written”. Tucked away in the article is the Wodehouse formula:
what really makes Wodehouse so addictive is the prose: the phrases which appear to float along so effortlessly, but which came about because he would, he said, “write every sentence 10 times.
Behold, I see the promised land! To become a great writer, we need to do just two things. We need to write every day (no excuses please!). And we need to review and polish our work five to ten times before shipping. Talent matters, but you need to show up every day and fine-tune your piece relentlessly. That’s what will make it shine.