How I Changed My Writing in 50 Days

They say it takes 3 weeks to create a habit; go to the gym regularly for 21 days and you will build up the routine-forming momentum to carry you effortlessly into the future. Easier said than done, since it has been my experience that those first 3 weeks are the hardest (and the physical and mood improvements of having gone to the gym don’t make sitting on my couch any less appealing in advance of going to the gym), but perhaps that’s exactly the point – the first 3 weeks are the hardest, and then it gets easier.

This 7-week writing course followed a similar pattern for me. Organizing course materials, carving out work time, and building an understanding of what to expect (and what is expected) takes time and cannot be rushed. Looking back on the course as a whole, feeling only now that I’ve found my groove, I can see three areas in which I developed.

Techniques
There are time-tested, established strategies that writers use to create effect. The rule of 3’s, the activating of language, the verbing of descriptions and adjectives, avoiding 3 words when 2 will do – the list goes on – and each helps me add effectiveness. Through these techniques ,I can make choices about how to communicate my message with style.

Perspectives
Adopting a sense of audience helps me focus and direct my message to the right person. I develop character persona that influence my word choices so girls in Grade 8 and adult colleagues alike are receiving text from me with a differentiated tone. I can thin out my information and keep content lean by understanding their WIIFM (What’s In It For Me).

Practice
My aha moment in this course came through the experience of writing weekly. Writing is a muscle. As muscles are supported by joints, bones and even nutrition, writing requires supports – information, environment and even nutrition. Writing can be lean or built; it can perform or disappoint; it can delight or ache. Sometimes, existing layers of writing skill must be shredded to make way for something newer, stronger.

One insight I have is that, just as exercise builds a hunger for different nutrients, writing has triggered my desire to read differently. I find that I am craving models of quality writing to influence my own developing style and have less appetite for the common pop style of the social media echo chamber.

As this post and the course each draw to a close, I am making a public commitment to blog more and to apply these new skills when I do. You can find me over at cohort21.com/adamcaplan and I’ll be excited to receive your comments there.

Thanks for being with me in this 7 week journey – and here’s to the next 50 days!

Crossposted from the blog, Writing for Learner Engagement. 

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