Want to be a great writer? Create experiences to write about.

My writing journey so far

For a long time I wanted to write, but I was too worried what people would think and never quite found the time.

Finally, I plucked up the courage. I started a blog and have posted >50 articles in the last year.

Unfortunately, my writing kinda sucked. I didn’t have all that much to write about.

I looked at popular writing that I enjoyed (Derek Sivers, Tim Ferriss, Cal Newport, etc) and I noticed one thing: They have all led outstanding lives.

This may sound like an obvious realisation, but they haven’t always been outstanding in conventional ways. Derek Sivers worked as a circus clown from 18 to 28, before creating the first internet music retail website, selling it for $22 million and giving that charity.

Even though their writing is often not about their lives directly, it is their extraordinary experiences or worldviews which enable them to write great posts. And their lives often provide context for the message.

For example, Tim Ferriss’ Productivity” Tricks for the Neurotic, Manic-Depressive, and Crazy (Like Me)” wouldn’t be anywhere near as powerful if he hadn’t achieved all that he has.

What I thought

For a long time, I viewed the path of becoming a writer as:

  1. Write lots
  2. Write some more
  3. Keep writing until it doesn’t suck

What I think now

To an extent, I think this is true. Good writing ability is important. However, I think to become a great writer, the following is more true:

  1. Live your life extraordinarily; ask new questions, try new things and have new experiences
  2. Write from a new viewpoint, having learnt and been changed by these experiences

Writing as a tool

Writing can be used as a tool to help you live well. I have found that frequent writing increases my clarity of thought and has great benefits in other areas of my life.

However, the focus should be on living first and writing second.

Rather than ‘becoming a great writer’ I want to ‘become someone who is a great writer’.

Until now, I have focussed on quantity over quality in my writing. This has served me well; it helped me to develop the writing habit and diminish ‘writer’s block’. But it has been frustrating at times, when I have written things I don’t like.

From now I will vent more energy into living how I want; pushing myself to try new things, meet new people, create new experiences and ultimately live more passionately. If this gives me more to write about it then I will write about it.