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What I Have Learned by Writing One Million Words

Since December 28, 2009, I have written 1,000,000 words here at The Sales Blog. If the average book is 60,000 words, I have written the equivalent of 16 books. Over the course of all this writing, I have learned a few things.

Write and Editing Are Different

I am a decent writer and a horrible editor. But I am getting better.

When I started writing this blog in earnest, I wrote directly in to WordPress. That was a mistake. It’s a terrific platform for your blog, but a terrible word processor. I wrote, edited, and pushed publish all at the same time. That wasn’t effective for me. At some point, I wised up a little.

I learned that writing is a creative endeavor. Editing only interrupts the creative process. Now when I write, I just write. I don’t even think about editing. I don’t let anything—even editing—interrupt the creative part of writing. Later, after I have let the post sit for the day, I come back an edit. I’m a better editor when I am only editing.

Separating the process of writing and editing has improved my editing skills (but I still have a long way to go before anyone can accuse me of being a good editor). If you want to write well, start by separating the writing and the editing process. Your writing and your editing will be stronger when you give each your full focus.

Clean Brain, Better Writing

My writing is better when I write first thing in the morning. The more the day drags on, the worse my writing. If I have to write late at night, it’s simply dreadful. Sometimes it’s unbearable.

You need psychic RAM to write well. You need to be in a resourceful and focused state of mind. After the world grinds on you all day, it’s difficult to find the bandwidth to do your best work.

I write first thing in the morning, normally around 5:30 AM. That’s how I start my day. Everyone who has asked me about writing in the morning and followed my advice immediately produces more–and better–content. It’s just easier with a clean brain.

If you want to write more, trying writing very early in the morning. Try writing as soon as you wake up. I’ll bet you produce more great content, and you will produce it faster.

Half As Many Words

I am proud of having written as much as I have. And I am at the same time ashamed.

I have written 1,000,000 words. That’s some accomplishment. But I could have said all that I said using far fewer words. Could I have shared those ideas using a mere 500,000 words? I am certain I could have. Some would say I could have done so using 250,000 words (or fewer even), and they would likely be correct. But there is something to be said for writing so many words (We’ll get to that next).

If you want to write well, write shorter, simpler, punchier sentences. Say things in as many words as are necessary, no more.

Practice, Practice, Practice

My writing continues to improve. The way to get better at anything is to keep working at it, and writing is no different. Writing these posts has allowed me to spend my time practicing. For me, it has been a worthwhile investment of my time and energy.

Even though I could have written fewer words, in some ways I am glad I wrote as much as I did. By writing more, I had more practice writing. I sill have many miles to go.

If you want to improve your writing, write more (Or see my friend Chris for some serious help).

Questions

How do you improve your writing? How do you improve anything you want to improve?

What’s the value of doing a lot of one thing?

How do you capture the learning outcomes you obtain from taking action?

What are you learning?


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Comments

comments

  • Dave Brock

    Wordy SOB aren’t you? Actually we will all have been at a tremendous loss without the 999,996 really important words you wrote. (Figure out the 4 we could have done without ;-)
    Congratulations, yours is a don’t miss for me every day! Regards, Dave

    • http://www.thesalesblog.com S. Anthony Iannarino

      Been searching for the four words. Damn this is difficult! Thanks, Dave!

  • http://www.shorespeak.com/blog shorespeak

    Congratulations Anthony!

    Questions:
    1) how did you count the words, because now I am curious re my site (and certain it surely isn’t 1 million!)
    2) when is the first of 16 books coming out?!

    Always a fan…
    Rob

    • http://www.thesalesblog.com S. Anthony Iannarino

      1). a little plugin called Blog Metrics (I believe it’s part of JetPack, but I could be wrong.

      2). Next year for book one (and maybe book two)

      Thanks, Rob.

  • David DIStefano

    Anthony, congratulations. I have read and enjoyed many of these million words. Keep them coming. Dave

    • http://www.thesalesblog.com S. Anthony Iannarino

      Thanks, Dave!

  • Gopal

    Congratulations Anthony. Wish you all the energy and psychic RAM for writing even better.

  • thomsinger

    I once head someone say they wanted to be a writer, and they were told “writers write”.. just go do it. You will improve by doing. Thinking about writing does little.

    I say the same things to those who want to be speakers. After 300 “professional level” presentations you get to a point where you are a better speaker. “speakers speak”

    Congrats.

    • http://www.thesalesblog.com S. Anthony Iannarino

      It’s so true, Thom. You really can’t get better at speaking without doing it. You get better so much faster by taking massive action instead of waiting for the skills to magically come to you.

  • John Millen

    Anthony, congrats on this milestone, which is stunning. Still, I’m more impressed by your consistent quality–always adding value. I’d say “keep up the good work” but for that goes without saying.

    • http://www.thesalesblog.com S. Anthony Iannarino

      Thanks, John!

  • Marc Zazeela

    Congratulations Anthony.

    One thing that really stands out is writing with fewer words. Many writers seem to use as many words as they can. In my opinion, the best writers can convey their thoughts, expressions, and emotions while using as few words as possible. That is certainly more difficult and that makes for better quality writing.

    Cheers,
    Marc

  • http://www.it-sales-leads.com/ Barbara Mckinney

    You’re truly right Anthony.

    When I was a student I used to study all my notes first thing in the morning and it really works.

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