Today, we are going to focus on the subject of writing. This topic actually popped in my head while I was on a walk and I wanted to share with all of you one of the best pieces of advice that I ever received and that is to not write for perfection.
My adviser gave me this advice when I was writing my first manuscript. I had read this many times online, but hearing it from someone solidified it in my mind. When I say this is good advice, I mean this is the best advice when writing. So don’t write for perfection! Trust me.
Just get started
One of the hardest parts about writing is just getting started. People don’t start because they want to make sure what they write makes sense, is a masterpiece, basically perfect. First off, there’s no such thing as perfection when it comes to writing. Second, even the best pieces of writing went through a ton, and I mean a ton, of editing. You only see the outcome but rarely get to see the process that occurs. Writing is about just putting pen to paper and writing what comes to you. Anything, just start.
So, when I started to write my first manuscript, I really had a hard time getting started. I did everything that they teach you in school like create an outline, do some research, write down all you know on the subject, stuff like that. I was really trying my hardest to make sure I got something right the first time when I should have just been writing without thinking about getting it right. When I was told to just write, that’s when things really started to go. I stopped thinking about perfection and just typed up what came to my mind. That was it. I just wrote.
Was I good? Will you be good?
Now, was that writing any good? God no!!! Most of the time the stuff that I wrote didn’t make sense, but that was actually a good thing. I got words in my document that I could go back later and change up. See, when you write, you may not get in the groove of things the first of even fifth time you start writing. It takes time and a bit of luck to not get writer’s block. The times where you have writer’s block or can’t really write is when you can edit. You are more than likely able to know that a sentence doesn’t make sense at that time so you are able to edit well. That is what I did. I would write one days where I could actually write something, though it might not be good, then edit on the days where writing was too much for me, which happens from time to time. Next thing I knew, I had something that resembled a paper.
Had I waited for the perfect sentence to pop in my head or the perfect writing day, I may not have even finished the paper until now. Manuscripts take time, but they could be a heck of alot longer if you wait for the inspiration and perfection to come to you. That is why I suggest just writing.
The act of writing itself will help you get passed the writer’s block and you will 100% become a better writer. I have seen my writing improve significantly, but only because I write a;ll of the time. Heck, just take a look at this blog. It’s close to 200k words which is a ridiculous amount. I rarely go back to edit this blog not, but I used to all of the time at the beginning.
It is way easier to write something and then edit then edit as you go, which many people do. Just write what pops in your mind and get it on paper. That will give you the motivation and encouragement to keep going. This is especially good advice when writing a dissertation. Mine turned out to be like 230 pages which is significant. If I wrote for perfection then I may not have finished when I did.
So, my biggest piece of advice is don’t write for perfection. Write just to write. Write for the sake of practicing your writing skills. It’s how you get better and you will have a manuscript, thesis, dissertation in no time
What is a piece of advice for writing that you would like to share with grad students or even undergrad students? Don’t write for perfection is my favorite because it is helpful but I am curious of some others.
Anyway, I am trying to get some more blog posts out and possibly 3 a week from here on out. I will have time to write, which I have really missed doing, and I want to bring more content to this website. I don’t really know where this writing will take me, but I am extremely excited to see where it goes.
Remember that if you have a question or just need to talk to someone about grad school, reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You are welcome to comment on this post or any other and start the conversation there as well. I totally encourage it. Ok, so this is enough writing for tonight, I have to get back to editing. I will see you all in the next one. Peace!