Taghow to write

WRITING IS NOT PAINTING

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When I started this blog, I thought that I would publish regularly and experiment with different writing styles. When I started, I announced that I am going to post twice a week. After failing that, I said that I am going to publish every day. My action was akin to a couple who makes a baby to strengthen their failing marriage.

That fallacy was the result of my artistic training. In art, we know that starting a lot of new work trumps working on one thing until you make that thing perfect. If they were given a year to improve, the painter who starts a new painting every day will be significantly better than the painter who works on the same painting at the end of the year. I thought writing would be similar.

I couldn’t be more wrong…

I can churn out mediocre articles with streams of consciousness every day, but those pieces are worthless for my purposes. Those kinds of articles are almost always lesser versions of information you can acquire from great books written on the subject. Moreover, the internet is full of writers who write mediocre posts that just remind or summarize what the great writers had written. Nobody needs another writer who churns out mediocre posts every week.

I don’t want to write posts that you are going to read as a guilty pleasure. I don’t want you to read what I have written as a procrastination device. I want to write things that will change how you see the world. I want to improve your understanding of the world and mine, solve your problems and mine, or just learn about a subject with you.  

I figured this out when I was trying to write an article for publishing today. Last week, I decided that I am going to write an essay about the principles of journalism to post today. I bet it was an easy enough subject to write within a few days, and it took me a couple of hours to write. Yet, that principles of journalism article weren’t saying anything new, so to make my post useful, I have decided to dive into the history of journalism and understand how these principles were formed. I thought I could do it since there were more than five days to the self-imposed deadline. I gathered my resources and started reading.

Unsurprisingly, most of the resources I had were about journalism in the US. Yet, I am from Turkey, and reading about US journalism made me wonder how journalism in Turkey differs from journalism in the US. That led me to the question; are the principles of journalism different or perceived differently between countries because of the historical differences in journalism’s growth. I started reading about the subject and taking extensive notes about it. I was on fire with curiosity.

The problem was that the article required a lot of research and reading, and I had a deadline, artificial or not, so I thought that I had to find something else to write about. I thought the subject that I can write about in such a short time would be “Why you should start your writing with a pitch.” I didn’t even start that article because my heart was still in the first one. I was deeply curious about it. This intense curiosity stopped me from writing the second one, and I started procrastinating.

As soon as I understood this, a bigger acceptance set in: I shouldn’t strive for publishing as much as I can; instead, I should aim for writing the best article I can write. Writing is different than painting. In painting, the small changes you can make to improve your piece improves your artistic skill and the image itself marginally. In writing, every rewrite, every draft is a huge learning opportunity. Every time you rewrite, every time you research for the article and improve your draft, you become a significantly better writer, and the piece improves significantly as well. I want to and will publish articles only when I can’t improve them further.

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Yigit Cakar