Improving your craft

What are you doing to improve your craft?

The question stopped me cold.

I was completing an application for a freelance writing gig this morning. All the questions were routine, easy, until I got to that one.

What are you doing to improve your craft?

I thought about the question honestly. And, I was embarrassed when I realized the answer was, “Not enough.”

Incidentally, I had just finished reading an article titled, “Why Constant Learners All Embrace the 5-Hour Rule.” The premise is simple: Devote one hour per day to learning. Do this five days a week. The one hour you spend learning will detract from your daily productivity, but it will pay big dividends in the long run.

In retrospect, it seemed an apt read this morning. Improving your craft doesn’t happen by accident. It requires purposeful action, like setting aside one hour a day to learn how to become a better writer.

This part of the article struck me particularly hard:

“Rather than doing things automatically and not improving, we can apply the proven principles of deliberate practice so we keep improving. This means doing things like taking time to get honest feedback on our work and practicing specific skills we want to improve.”

I know a few places where my writing could stand some polishing. My knowledge of mechanics and grammar, for instance, has gone a bit slack lately. It’s time to tighten the cinch, as my grandparents would say. Brush off the old Strunk and White. Get back to basics.

The toolbox

If you, too, are looking for some resources to improve your grammar and usage skills, then I’d highly recommend Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab (OWL). This website is a godsend. It offers free comprehensive guides on pretty much everything, including mechanicsgrammar, and punctuation.

Your turn

What skills would you like to improve? What’s one everyday task you’d like to learn to do better?

Photo credit: Pixabay

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