I started playing tennis again this year, after a long, long time away from the game. But it turns out I'm not as good as I used to be. (surprising, right?)
I found myself getting frustrated that more of my shots weren't great. After all, I'm only hitting a ball (and I used to be very good at doing that.)
When I hit the ball, I ended up with one of five different results:
Terrible - where my shot didn't even make it into the court.
Weak - my shot went into the court, but it was easy for my opponent to smash the ball back at me.
Average - my shot went into the court, and my opponent hit it back to me.
Strong - my shot not only went into the court, but it was difficult for my opponent to return it back into my court.
Excellent - where my shot was so good that my opponent couldn't get to it and the point was won.
You might expect a standard, bell-curve distribution of results, with lots of shots being average and a few outlier shots on either end of the spectrum.
But that isn't what happened. Tennis is a skill, not a random assortment of shots. Skilled players make more good shots, and unskilled players make more bad shots.
My curve looked more like this, with a larger number of below-average shots.
The good news is that tennis, like writing (and any other skill), can be improved with practice. As the year went on, and I had hit several thousands of shots during practice and play, my shot-chart started to look more like this one - with more shots in the average and strong range.
Looking forward to next year, I expect to continue to improve with additional practice. I should be able to hit more strong and excellent shots, and my overall quality should improve so that my average shot next year is better than my average shot was last year.
Putting all the charts on the same graph makes it easy to see the improvement.
Now let’s talk about writing
I've used tennis as an example, but the same story holds true for writing - whether you're writing blog posts or newsletters.
At first, you'll probably have more bad posts than good ones. But with persistence and consistency, writing week after week, your quality will improve. Over time:
You'll have more good articles compared to bad articles.
You're overall average article will be of a higher quality.
You'll have a larger number of good articles to refer people to, due to both your improved quality and the overall number of articles you've written.
And most importantly, you're sphere of influence will be hearing from you consistently, month after month, for a long time.
You can't become a great writer, or a prolific writer, today. But you CAN start down that path. All it takes is a commitment to writing consistently as part of your weekly plan.
** Note - this concept is true for any skill: tennis, writing, public speaking, computer programming, painting, running, etc., etc. The list of things you can get good at with consistent practice is endless.
- Chris Butterworth
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