It’s been seven long years since I started writing this little blog. And I started preparing to write this post by reading all of my other anniversary posts.
Every year in the past I’ve been surprised that I’ve kept writing. But after seven years, I think I’ll go ahead and keep writing. I’ve proven to myself that I can do hard things.
What continues to surprise me, and what I’m still deeply grateful for, is that you’re still reading. That there are still people who want to follow along this journey with me. Who want to learn, or at least be entertained by me.
I am humbled by this every single day.
Seven years ago, the realization that people were reading things I wrote inspired me to keep writing. Now, you’ve inspired me to level up.
I want to be a better writer. I want to write better. Those might sound like the same thing, but they’re not. Let me break it down a little.
To be a better writer means to be more disciplined. To practice more. To treat my art like art and my business like business. To spend less time on Instagram and more on writing practices.
To write better is to produce better stories. To learn my craft inside and out. To understand language, word choice, grammar, and world-building in ways that I don’t now.
How exactly I’m going to do this is still in the planning stage. But I’m doing what anyone does to get better at anything. Learning and practicing.
I’m taking all of the writing classes on Masterclass. I’m re-reading books about writing that inspire me, like Wild Mind and On Writing. I’m reading Writer’s Digest from cover to cover. I’m listening to writing podcasts like Writing Excuses and Ditch Diggers. That’s the learning part.
I’m freewriting and doing daily exercises. I’m creating a dedicated Writer’s Notebook. I’m thinking more about word choice. I’m thinking about why stories work and why they don’t. I’m making lists. That’s the practice part.
This is the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. I love focusing on the words. It’s the hardest goal I’ve ever made. There’s no damned ruler to measure my progress.
I can enter contests, and I do. I can track how many people follow me here. I can track how much of my content sells. But those are all measurements that are dependent on the opinions of others. And that’s arbitrary. I can never control other people’s opinions. I can only write good stories. Which is, again, arbitrary.
What constitutes a good story? I don’t know, but I know when I read one. So I’m on a mission to know. To understand.
I don’t think I’ll have a set of rules that will tell me if my stories are getting better. But I do think that if I keep at it, I’ll have a better understanding. And I think I’ll enjoy my work more.
So let’s make a deal. Let’s, each of us, commit to leveling up our art over the next 365 days. It doesn’t have to be writing.
I’ll post blog posts that will hopefully teach you something. I’ll also post more short stories, so you can decide for yourself how I’m doing. And you commit to doing one thing every week to improve your art, whatever that means to you.
Let’s meet back here in a year and see how we’re doing.
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