Comfort Writing and How To Avoid It
Most of us have heard the term ‘comfort eating’. I know the phrase all too well. A bad day can still occasionally lead to me devouring a couple bars of chocolate or a few donuts.
Comfort eating makes me feel better about myself for a short period of time. It’s taking the easy route. But it’s not healthy, and it’s not valuing myself or my body.
And strangely enough, it’s the same with writing.
When we turn pro, we give up a life with which we may have become extremely comfortable.
~Steven Pressfield, Turning Pro (Tweet This Quote)
I’ve been blogging for several years and I’ve trained myself to write a decent post.
But I’ve written posts and not gone over them as much as I should have before posting them.
Now in one sense this is a good idea. To get into the habit of writing posts effectively and efficiently is good. At times we need to write and publish quickly – and sometimes, it can challenge us and help us grow.
But there is a difference between this, and what I call ‘comfort writing’.
Last year I got an opportunity to guest post for a site with a much larger readership than my own. It was a huge opportunity for me.
So do you think I wrote an every day standard blog post?
Of course not. I worked extra diligently on the post. I went through several drafts before finally submitting the post to be published. I took my time, I made sure nothing was left to chance.
As a result, it turned out to be one of my best. It got a positive response from a lot of people.
But I realized then I wasn’t giving blog posts for my own blog the same time and attention. Without knowing it, I’d lowered my standards for my own blog.
I was comfort writing.
All writers can be tempted to comfort write. But when you comfort write, you are settling for second best. You won’t be growing as a writer, you’ll be stagnating.
And you’re not valuing the gift you’ve been given.
Comfort writing can occur unexpectedly, often without you even realizing it. You get into a habit of writing and posting and for whatever reason – tiredness, complacency or just plain laziness – you don’t pay quite as much attention to the quality.
When writing and blogging begins to feel like a hobby, or you feel you can get away with spending less time on posts, or you don’t feel like you’re growing as a writer, you’re most likely comfort writing.
It’s a temptation which strikes us all.
So how can we avoid comfort writing?
Here’s some tips:
1) Ask yourself ‘Would a major blogger publish this?’
Before you decide to publish any piece of writing, stop and ask yourself “If I was submitting this to a major blog (i.e.: Relevant Magazine, Seth Godin, Michael Hyatt), would it be of sufficient standard for them?”
If the answer is no, then it shouldn’t be good enough for you either.
2) Don’t publish the first draft
Try to avoid posting the first draft. Go back and edit, and be ruthless. Give the message time to marinade – leave it and come back to it later.
3) Be a pro, not an amateur
Don’t write like it’s a hobby. If you want to grow as a writer, you need to be professional in your attitude. A great book for this is “Turning Pro” by Steven Pressfield. In it he writes:
The difference between an amateur and a professional is in their habits. An amateur has amateur habits. A professional has professional habits.
4) Get regular feedback
This isn’t necessary true for every piece, but sometimes it’s good to get others feedback on your work before you publish it. Find someone whose judgment you trust and who’ll be honest, and ask them to critique your writing regularly.
A wise second pair of eyes is invaluable to maintaining your standards.
It’s easy for us to fall into the trap of comfort writing. I have done it, and you probably have too. But we need to avoid it as much as we can.
So take these steps today. Not only will you avoid comfort writing, it will mean something amazing:
You’ll closer to becoming the writer you were made to be.
Have you fallen into the trap of comfort writing? Share in the comments.