Stop reading so much about writing—and start writing

Sure, a book can spark ideas and inspiration, but your writing won’t actually improve until you start putting words on the page.

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How many books on writing do you own?

How much time do you spend reading about writing?

Now, here’s the most important question: How much time do you spend writing every day?

Often, people who say they care about writing read many writing books—and then spend little or no time putting words on the page. If this applies to you, consider the downsides of reading too many books about writing:

Reading (without writing) won’t help you improve. To improve your writing, you must write. There is nothing special about writing in this regard. Reading about running doesn’t make you a better runner. Scanning a tome about making cabinets won’t turn you into a better cabinet maker.

Reading books about your craft will provide ideas and inspiration, but you won’t improve until you put pen to paper (or fingers to keys).

Improvement hinges more on new habits than new ideas. Sure, books can give you ideas. However, ideas aren’t useful until you transform them into habits. Here are two healthy habits to cultivate:

Writing takes time. Books often make us feel as though we can change ourselves quickly and painlessly, without much effort. Unfortunately, improving your writing is not something you can do in a day.

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