Sometimes, simple rules make it easier to improve.
Writing is an act of love before anything else. And as with every act of love, you need to take care of it to make it grow and strengthen.
But writers are fallible human beings. We want to be productive, but we embrace procrastination every day. We wish to be praised, but leaving our comfort zone terrorizes us. So writing becomes a fight between what we accomplish and what we give up. And a rigid discipline is our only path towards greatness.
Being disciplined, however, has never been easy. It requires sacrifice, hard work, and dedication. So instead of using intricate rules, it is better to simplify them as much as possible. And the Kaizen philosophy can help you with that.
So here are 8 simple Kaizen life rules to write better articles.
What is Kaizen, and how can it help you write better articles?
Kaizen is a Japanese philosophy that means changing for the better or constant progress. Its core follows five basic principles: teamwork, discipline, morale, quality, and improvement. And due to its adaptability, many professional and personal systems adopted it to improve their work.
When I first heard about Kaizen, I was skeptical. Its improvement system follows the famous PDCA cycle (Plan-Do-Check-Act), but its principles seem too general and inconsistent.
After years of writing, however, I understood that simple is often more efficient, especially when you need to teach people to improve themselves. Thus, clear principles become beneficial for a better comprehension of both the problem and the solution.
Also, an elementary tenet has a higher chance of becoming universal and spreading through many disciplines, like writing. So if you want to write better articles, you could live by these 8 Kaizen life rules and implement them into your routine.
1 — Never stop.
There is an area of improvement in the life of anyone. It doesn’t matter how successful you are. If you stop improving, you will never become a good writer.
When I started writing in English, I knew it was tough for a non-native speaker. And to be honest, two years ago, my knowledge was so poor I lacked basic punctuation skills.
I had previous experiences with writing — I wrote two books in Italian — but the rules changed in English. And even if I have improved a lot since then, I keep reading about writing, discussing it, and searching for ways to improve my style.
Every time I reach a milestone, I look for another right away. Because improvement has no limits — you can continue it on an infinite scale.
Write a list of skills you want to learn. Then search for books, articles, courses, and videos that help you reach the goal. And let curiosity guide you.
2 — Eliminate old practices.
Old habits are the main enemy for any person, especially for writers who need to create stories out of nothing. The pressure of the blank page makes us procrastinate more than we are willing to admit. So we give up and surrender to bad habits and routines that restrain our writing flow. But if we want to improve, we need to get rid of them.
I am not ashamed to admit I am a long-time procrastinator. I have many interests in life, and curiosity doesn’t help for sure. But sometimes, I know I avoid writing because I surrender to the guild growing in my chest. So I learned to recognize that trigger and start working before it becomes too powerful.
When dealing with old practices, replacement works better than elimination. So, for each abandoned habit, build another healthier one.
3 — Be proactive.
Stillness destroys the possibilities of success. Doing something, and perhaps failing, is always better than doing nothing. And you need to be proactive if you want to discover what works and what doesn’t.
When I started my blog, I overlooked my niche. I loved improving myself, and I loved writing. But the two topics seemed too distant to connect, so I did both.
A year later, by trial and error, I found a link. So I created my first content map. But I would have never noticed it without being proactive.
Even if I failed, I didn’t care. I wanted to understand what worked and what didn’t. And being proactive brought me the answers I was searching for.
Stop hesitating and give yourself a time limit to think about problems. Each time a hurdle makes you lose more than two or three days of work, find a way to evade it.
4 — Beware of new methods.
Besides giving up on old habits, putting all our hopes in revolutionary methods is the other thing that slows you down the most when writing. For this reason, one of the 8 Kaizen life rules to write better articles asks you to beware of any new method and question its efficiency.
I often tested new approaches to improve my writing and produce more content in less time. A few months ago, I was writing articles in 60 minutes. But I have to admit those methods are my way of introducing variability and passion in my life.
I don’t want to get bored by writing, so I need to stay creative in how I write. Therefore, I test many methods, but only for short periods because, in the end, the core of writing is reordering words on a blank page. Nothing more.
Just because a new approach worked for someone, it doesn’t mean it will work for you too. So if you are curious about new methods, try them. But if they fail, go back to what you know best.
5 — Make corrections.
Any perfect system needs two components — a stable technique and a self-regulation strategy. And the first without the second results in secure disaster.
If you want to improve as a writer, you need to recognize what needs relevant corrections in your style and clean it up. But without self-regulation, you might miss the weak points of your system. So you don’t have any feedback on what to improve and what is working.
Yet a tracking system helps you find the critical areas of your writing that need improvement. So you can build a plan to correct them with ease.
The fastest self-regulation system consists of an emotional and efficiency tracker. Each day, take notes on how you felt and how efficient you were, so you have a hint on what needs improvement.
Usually, I avoid talking about crowdsourcing because I don’t want my audience to think I am trying to buy them. But as a writer, reading comments and criticism is the fastest way to improve.
Crowdsourcing, however, can become dangerous if you consider each comment you receive. So keep in mind these 3 steps:
- Well-written critiques are the most valuable feedback possible.
- Praise is convenient.
- And hate messages should not affect you.
But unless you are a robot, both critiques and hate messages will hurt your ego. So ignore them at first, and only answer when you calmed down.
If your audience doesn’t give you feedback, ask them. Write a call to action that enhances interaction and answer as many comments as you can. Someday, you will find readers that love your content, and they will be a valuable treasure.
7 — Practice the Five Why method.
You can use the Five Why method to understand many truths about life. But you can also use it with your articles to build a deeper connection with your readers.
Narrating emotional stories is one of the golden rules of content creation. But the same anecdote can trigger different emotions. So to understand if your audience will empathize with your story, you can use the Five Why method and dive deep into its meaning.
Why should they read your article?
Start with this simple question and try to build a deeper connection.
If you keep asking the same question, you will find the real reason behind the problem. So start with the issue in mind, build the first question, and then shrink the research.
8 — Be economical.
I invested one-tenth of my income in blogging two years ago. Last year, I cut the expenses in half. And I plan to reduce the costs again.
In the first stages of your writing career, services that should improve your writing will charm you more than hell. You will be so hungry to find success that you will buy anything just to reach that goal.
But writing requires time and patience. It is not something you can master overnight, nor a service you can buy. So consider everything that you are investing in your career, and try to remove any redundant service.
Last year, I saved most of my income with a simple wish list. And you can apply the same technique to writing.
- Write a list of items and services you think you need.
- Consider the pros and cons of each buy.
- Calculate the impact of each product on your monthly income.
- Define a variable safe time you need to wait before buying anything.
Kaizen is a philosophy you can apply to any field you want to improve, writing included. And like many improvement theories, you can express it with 8 Kaizen rules to write better articles.
But rules are there to be broken. Perhaps crowdsourcing doesn’t work for you, and you create your best content when you don’t care about your readers. Or maybe spending a lot of money on your passion makes you happier and gives you the motivation to continue writing.
Whatever is your style, preserve it if it works. But if it doesn’t, you can use the 8 simple Kaizen life rules to write better articles.
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