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How to improve your writing: 1. Get ideas on paper: Put words on the page as fast as you can. First drafts are always messy. But you can only start shaping ideas into polished writing once they're out of your head. The beauty and clarity you desire will emerge with each edit.
2. Finding ideas Sherlock Holmes once said: "The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes." But when you write regularly, you start observing those things because the pen turns you into a curious detective who is always hunting for clues.
3. Collecting ideas Finding ideas isn't enough. You have to save them too. Preferably, in a centralized place where you can instantly search for the best ideas you've ever had. The better your note-taking system, the less you have to rely on memory.
David Perell @david_perellIf you want to improve your writing, start by becoming a better note-taker. Here are 10 ways to do that: 1. Save only the best notes: Don't hoard information. Save your top 5-10% of ideas only. That way, you can trust that everything in your note-taking system is high-quality.
4. Stay consistent The Soul Cycle Effect says that people push themselves harder with a group of committed people than they do on their own. If it helps, find a writing group. Meet daily, but don't worry if you miss a session. Set intentions for the day before you start writing.
5. The two benefits of reading Painters look at lots of art, musicians listen to lots of music, and writers read all the time. Read to collect ideas and get inspired. Save the best ideas into your note-taking system and let yourself be inspired by the majesty of beautiful prose.
6. The two modes of writing: Beer Mode and Coffee Mode In Beer Mode, you enter a state of play and joy where you laugh with friends and collect experiences. Coffee Mode is where the actual writing happens. It's full of focus and empty of distractions.
David Perell @david_perellCreatives have two kinds of working: 1) Beer mode: A state of unfocused play where you discover new ideas. 2) Coffee mode: A state of focused work where you grind towards a specific outcome. You find ideas in Beer mode and implement them in Coffee mode.
7. Time-box your writing sessions Chances are, you're limited not by how much time you spend writing, but by how productive you are when you actually write. Set a timer for your sessions and force yourself to stop when it goes off. Doing so will inspire the focus you need.
8. Ending writing sessions Flow states are the holy grail of this craft. Once you're done writing, give yourself 60 seconds to jot down what you were thinking when you stopped writing and what you plan to accomplish next time at the top of the page.
David Perell @david_perellWhenever you stop writing, leave yourself a 100-word note at the top of the page. Here’s what to write: • Where you’re stuck • What to work on next time • What you were thinking about when you stopped writing The short notes makes writing easier when you return to the page.
9. Imitate, then Innovate Learn from the writers who inspire you. Study their tricks and imitate them. Paradoxically, imitating them will help you develop your own style. As their words enter your heart and become a part of you, you'll find your voice.
David Perell @david_perellThree words to improve any skill: Imitate, then innovate. Find your favorite creators, copy their style, and you'll eventually develop your own. Here's my mini-essay.
10. Grammar Wait to study grammar. No part of writing is as important as having something interesting to say in the first place. That’s why we can read poorly written comments for hours on Reddit written by guys in their underwear but get bored with academic writing in a second.
11. Writer's block If you're struggling to get ideas out of your mind and onto the page, start writing while you walk. Go for a stroll and capture the best ideas that come to mind. Or, talk into your phone and transcribe what you say. Move your body to ignite your creativity.
12. Growing your audience It's nice to have people read what we write, so focus on a specific topic that people care about. The more niche, the better. Learn as much as you can and share the best things you learn. Publish consistently and keep improving.
David Perell @david_perellThe Internet rewards unique people. Find your unique combination of skills, interests, and personality traits. I call this a Personal Monopoly. Become the only person in the world who does what you do. Then, tell the world by sharing your knowledge.
Writing online is one of the highest leverage things you can do for your career. With the stroke of a pen, you can attract like-minded people and accelerate your career. Follow me to learn more: @david_perell
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