Sometimes, I make YouTube videos.
It’s very obvious, when I post these videos, that they are not professional-quality productions. I still have a lot to learn.
But I really like making videos. For a long time, I stopped, because I didn’t feel like they were good enough to even bother producing them.
For almost a year (2016 – 2017), I didn’t so much as glance at my YouTube channel. And when I started posting videos again last year to keep myself motivated through NaNoWriMo, I was a little disappointed, at first, when I realized my first video wasn’t any better than the one I’d posted almost a year earlier.
It’s almost like I expected the passing of time to improve my video-making skills — when in reality, the only thing that could have helped would have involved, oh I don’t know, making a bunch of terrible videos.
I’m trying to make more of them now, because I think they’re fun, and it’s a good way to share more thoughts with my audience without writing another blog post.
They’re still not great. But each one is ever-so-slightly less awful than the last.
Why? Because the process I have to go through to create and publish each new video is something we creatives like to call practice.
What if I stopped posting on this blog for a year? Would I get any better at blogging if I let my blog collect virtual dust? No. My blog improves because I improve, by blogging more.
A writer does not get better at writing if they do not write.
The thing you post on your blog today, to you, might feel like the worst thing you’ve ever written.
But it’s very likely that the thing you post after today will be ever-so-slightly less terrible than the thing you posted today.
You just have to keep practicing. As often as you can. Regularly, consistently, for best results.
Now, does this mean that every single thing you write, you also have to publish? Does it count as practice if no one ever sees it?
You’re never required to post anything online if you don’t want to. Half the videos I’ve uploaded in the past few months, I probably shouldn’t have.
But there’s a confidence factor at play here. It’s not just about practicing the process. It’s about getting more comfortable in a particular space. The more you post, the easier it gets to post every time. You worry less about sucking. You focus more on creating a product that’s slightly better than your last attempt. You raise your own bar. You try harder.
Sometimes, you have to do something terribly a few dozen times before you crank out something you can be proud of — and even more times until other people start seeing the value in it, too.
Practice makes better. You don’t regress when you repeat. You start to recognize the patterns in your work you want to change, and then you start changing them. That only happens by doing.
Practice. Keep practicing. Even when you fail. No matter how cringe-worthy. We all start here. Only you can write your way toward something grand.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.