Write. Edit. Write. Edit. Edit. Edit. Write…
Does this sound familiar?
I bet it does…
Truth be told, I used to say that one knows a piece of writing is properly edited when he feels sick just thinking about having to read it one more time.
And it’s easy to drive yourself crazy trying to edit like that.
So… what do you have to do instead?
Competency is your brain’s ultimate goal
Competency happens after you’ve made enough mistakes that your brain can let it all go.
That’s right. It’s not about what you do right — it’s about what goes wrong. The brain has to make hundreds, thousands of mistakes — and overcome them — to reach competency.
You can see this for yourself if you watch a two-year-old learning to walk. Get the child to walk on grass, and then on gravel. He’ll struggle, and he may fall.
Get the child to say a sentence, and he’ll struggle to find the right words in the right order.
The child has yet to make enough mistakes. That is all.
Once the brain makes enough mistakes — and corrects them — has reached its level of competency in that field, be it walking, talking, or writing.
What it means to be “fluent”
It seems magical. It’s what others call “talent” or “genius.”
Actually, it’s reaching such a high level of competency that you are fluent in whatever you’re doing. You are finding and correcting mistakes in your subconscious, and it barely needs a conscious decision on your behalf.
Think of it as learning to drive a car. When that happens, it’s gruesome to be listening to music, or to be talking on the phone. You need to focus on the task (driving the car) but as you reach competency and become “fluent” at driving a car, you can do it while doing something else.
This is how you edit like a boss
I could have written the shortest blog post ever, but you would have thought I was just messing with you.
Yes, it’s really simple.
Make hundreds and hundreds, maybe even thousands, of mistakes. Write, edit, write, edit, write, write, write, punch those damn keys, and edit some more…
The idea is that you learn. Everything you are, everything you do is learned behavior. From your passions to your fears and phobias, all is learned behavior.
If you’re struggling now, take comfort in knowing that there will be a day when you won’t struggle. As long as you make enough mistakes to become fluent at it.
That is greatness in less than 500 words.
And, believe me, I used to struggle to write. In English. Which is not my native language. I once spent 9 hours trying to come up with a clever sentence for one of my novels.
I used to spend 8-9 hours writing and editing a single blog post.
Now I can do it in about an hour.
I can write blog posts in buses, at parties, in coffee shops, on a laptop, on my phone, on a piece of paper with a pencil if needs be.
DO NOT BE AFRAID TO FAIL. YOU CANNOT SUCCEED UNLESS YOU FAIL.