Writing Tip: Practice isn’t enough

Apr 28, 2014 | Better Writing

In an old joke, a pedestrian who needs directions stops someone on the street. “How do I get to Carnegie Hall,” the pedestrian asks. “Practice, practice, practice” is the answer.

Back when appearing at Carnegie Hall signaled that a singer or musician had achieved great success, the point of the joke was clear. It’s still clear if you want to write well.

You must practice, practice, practice. And you must do more.

Test yourself.

Before you release your writing to the world, test it yourself. Read it aloud. Check readability.

Get feedback.

Ask other people for feedback. If all you hear is complimentary, you’re not getting the whole truth. Dig deeper.

If no one tells you the truth, perhaps they know that you don’t really want to hear the truth. A little self-examination followed by more requests is in order.

You can also hire a coach. This will cost you money, but it should also speed your development.

Reflect on what you hear.

Not all feedback is equally valid or equally helpful. Pay attention to the things you hear over and over. Pay attention to the feedback of knowledgeable people.

Change for the better.

Turn the advice you hear into better writing. That why you’re getting it, right?

Keep practicing.

Even when you become an excellent writer, there will still be room to get better. Practice, practice, practice.