We can be better writers. Jeff Goins said so.

I want to be a better writer.  

There.  I said it.

Not a better blogger, a better writer.

So I introduced myself to Jeff Goins, and I went to his breakout session at Blissdom.  Jeff is an incredibly talented writer, and I wanted to be able to tap into a tiny sliver of whatever it is that makes him amazing.

Jeff Goins at Blissdom

Because I’m not a great writer, I tell myself I’ll never be a great writer.  It’s an art, and I don’t have it, right?  Wrong.  Jeff’s very first point was to define writing as a craft, not an art.  And a craft is something you can practice, something you can get better at, something you can learn.

My heart fluttered with hope.  Maybe yours did too?

"I write because I don't know what I think until I read what I say." - Flannery O'Connor

We can be better if we want to be better.  So now what?

Jeff recommends spending a significant amount of time reading things outside of your niche (no food memoirs for me) including classics and magazines like The New Yorker.  I bought “The Great Gatsby” at the thrift store the other day, so I started in on it this week.  (I read it in high school so it must be a classic, right?)

He also recommends writing.  A lot.  Not blogging, not tweeting, not Facebooking, actual writing.  With a pen and paper.  This will require more of a commitment.  I know in my head that words pour out of me when I put pen to paper, but setting aside time to write is hard.  (Anyone want to be my writing accountability buddy?  We could tweet about how much we’re writing instead of tweeting.  #writingnottweeting)

More advice from Jeff Goins:
-You never win the comparison game.  Comparison kills creativity.
-Just because it happened doesn’t make it interesting.
-Find an honest friend who will give you honest feedback on your writing.
-Do the quiet work that matters.  It’s hard to build your craft in front of an audience.
-Figure out the thing that you can’t not do, and prioritize your work around it.
-Stop trying to be known, do something that matters.

Wow, that’s a lot to work on.  I compare myself to other writers way too often, and I’m sure I blog about uninteresting happenings.

But I’m willing to do the work to improve.

Are you?

Do you write?  Do you want to be a better writer?  How do you work on your writing skills?  Do you ever fall into the comparison trap?

  • Heather || Heather's Dish March 27, 2013 at 7:43 pm

    How did you just read my mind? I was just thinking today (and writing out a plan) about wanting to be a better writer. I feel like I was once so much better, before writing became part of my actual job!

    • inspiredrd March 27, 2013 at 8:13 pm

      Yay, perfect timing!

  • Steph March 27, 2013 at 10:58 pm

    I was sitting at my computer much of the day yesterday trying to write a blog post. I never did write one because I remembered reading one of your favorite quotes from Blissdom, “Just because it happened doesn’t make it interesting.” This post today has motivated me to write, actually write, before I try to blog if I am feeling blocked. I’ll totally be your writing accountability buddy if you still need one, I know I do! 🙂

    • inspiredrd March 28, 2013 at 7:08 am

      Another tip I learned (from Jon Acuff) is to match your energy levels with your tasks. I wrote this post at my lowest energy level yesterday (I really wanted to take a nap) and it took me a good hour longer than it should have. Try writing when you’re at your peak energy for the day if possible!

  • Brittany March 28, 2013 at 6:37 am

    this is so good!!! i love the tips that you listed at the bottom. definitely ideas to apply to my own writing/blogging. and the Flannery O’Connor quote – GREAT! i did my senior thesis for English Writing and Theology on that woman! AAAAAMAZING inspiration right there! XO

    • inspiredrd March 28, 2013 at 7:10 am

      Thanks Brittany! Jeff used the quote in his talk and I just loved it.

  • David Molnar March 28, 2013 at 8:37 am

    YAY! THAT’S AWESOME ALYSA! I am a writer too and I’m inspired to pursue and continue to learn my craft. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Dana @ Conscious Kitchen Blog March 28, 2013 at 10:44 am

    I graduated from Journalism school and now write by profession. To say writing is a huge part of my life is an understatement. What all of this has taught me, however, is exactly what you’re saying here. Writing is a craft which gets honed over time and with practice. I love these tips and wait to try some of them. Especially the one about writing with pen and paper. Time to buy a journal.

  • Jeff Goins March 28, 2013 at 11:36 am

    I love this, Alysa! Great to meet you at Blissdom. Thanks for coming to the session!

  • Stephanie March 29, 2013 at 11:32 am

    Excellent tips! Thanks for taking the time to share them with all of us.

    My latest reads include “Call The Midwife” (the memoir that inspired the television show) and “The Cricket in Times Square” (aloud to the girls). 😉