Writing-wise, the past year has gone pretty well for me.
Since September of last year I’ve accumulated 1.5 million views on Quora alone and have tens of thousands views on my content elsewhere. I’ve been republished a good number times in various publications, and landed a job through writing.
To some people, that’s impressive. To others, I’m just barely blip on the writing radar.
To me, it’s not bad.
I’m not trying to brag about my accomplishments as a writer — like I said, to a lot of people, those numbers are bush league.
What I really want to talk about, is something I was reminded of a little over one year ago, when I really began to take shape as a writer.
It’s what allowed me to grow and generate views. It’s what taught me how to battle personal doubts about content and bust through the wall we call writer’s block, time-and-time again.
And, it’s a Lil Wayne quote:
Repetition is the father of learning.
Last year is when I met Nicolas Cole—my friend and writing mentor.
I was looking for writing opportunities and a buddy of mine introduced me to Cole. I reached out to him, and asked what advice he had for an aspiring writer. He replied, asking if I’d want to meet for coffee.
We met at a Starbucks on State Street (Chicago) and got to talking. I picked his brain a bit, trying to learn as much as I could about what it takes to be a successful writer (not long before, Cole had released his first book and was in the beginning stages as a startup founder). We finished our drinks and walked to the train station, as we were both headed to the same area.
As we sat on the train, the topic got away from writing, and made it’s way to music. Being two 20-something year-olds from Chicago, it should come as no surprise that rap dominated that conversation.
We got to talking about one of the greatest of all time, Lil Wayne*, and how much we admired not only his music, but his work ethic. We chatted about discography, his record label Young Money, and worked our way into talking about his 2009 documentary Tha Carter.
“You know,” said Cole, “I learned one of my most valuable life lessons from that documentary.”
“What’s that?” I asked, already eager to put it into practice myself.
“Repetition is the father of learning.”
I remember the exact scene from the documentary. Lil Wayne was in a recording studio, where he had been for hours on-end. He knew the only way he’d reach success as a musician was through practice, and illustrated that point through through those six words.
That quote had resonated with my before, but being an athlete all my life, I really only applied it to sports. For whatever reason, I didn’t have that approach initially as a writer. I just figured that my writing would get better with time.
Now, it’s something I remind myself on a constant basis with everything, especially writing.
I would have never reached a million views if Cole hadn’t reminded me of that Lil Wane quote. I doubt I would have ever gotten republished, or gotten a job at a writing-based company. I probably would have given up on writing altogether.
Since then, I’ve written every single day.
Minus a few days here and there for [insert lame excuse].
I took that quote to heart, and applied it directly to writing. I prioritized practice, even on days I didn’t feel like writing because I valued learning. I sat at my desk, hitting the delete button an unhealthy amount of times to get over writer’s block. I lost a ton of sleep staying up all night to write pieces that ended up getting virtually no views, but from it, I learned.
Repetition is what got me republished.
Repetition is what got me a million+ views.
Repetition is what got me a job doing what I love.
If you want to be a better writer, prioritize repetition.
You simply cannot improve as a writer without constant repetition.
Practice every single day, no matter what, and be sure to hold yourself accountable. You’re always learning through repetition, even if it doesn’t feel like it.
Make it your mantra and see where it takes you.
Thanks for reading :)
*If you disagree that Lil Wayne is one of the greatest rappers of all time, I’m happy to debate over private message.
**Image by Ramona Rosales for Billboard.