Three ways writing less is helping me write better

I write less than I used to. Actually that’s not entirely true. I write articles that people see a lot less than I used to. And I think it has made me a better writer.

My old pattern of writing

Back when the world, or at least this website was new, I published a daily blog post. Every single day, without fail, there was a new post. Most of the time, it was something I was writing entirely. Occasionally, it was a post that was interacting (or sharing) a quote from a book I was reading. Then I added in a daily link round-up, and before I knew it, it wasn’t uncommon for a week to include 12-14 posts.

I was following the common wisdom that, in order to do something well, you need to do it a lot. Put in your time, your reps, and so forth, and you’ll eventually be a great writer. Or at least a better one than you were when you started.

When I moved to the United States, I cut back. I had to because moving to a new country is intense. When the demands of my job became so great that I could devote little time to writing on this site, I slowed down more. But, as I shared elsewhere, I never actually stopped writing. Instead, I wrote articles for my then-employer. I also wrote a bunch of books—including three for families, one that became a free resource, and one that will be released in 2023 (and then there’s The Non Sequiturs Journal on top of that…). And then I wrote a 99 part video series…

You get the idea.

For a long time, it wasn’t so much that I stopped writing, but I did change what and how I was writing. And when I made my way back here in November, I had to make the choice: did I pick up where I left off, and go from zero to 1,000,000? Or would it be wiser to take things slow?

Three ways writing less is making me a better writer

I chose to commit to publishing one article a week. With rare exception where I’ve had reason to publish a second, that’s what I’ve been doing since November of 2021. And what I’ve found is that it is helping me be a better writer than I was before in three ways.

1. I am taking my time to flesh out my thoughts.

Every writer has ideas or opinions that aren’t fully formed. They might be the beginning of something worth saying, but maybe they need a little longer to be fleshed out. Writing less frequently has helped me to give these ideas the space they need. An article like this one, for example, started two weeks before I actually scheduled it. Parts of this were written on-and-off during that time, before finishing it up on Sunday night (my usual article writing night). I have a nugget of an idea for something else that needs more time—possibly a lot more—before I’m comfortable sharing it. I even have one thing that started as an article idea that has turned into a possible future book. Some thoughts take time to be expressed well, and I’m learning to be really okay with that.

2. My writing is based more in experience than theory.

I genuinely believe the most helpful writing is based in lived experience, especially as it relates to the Christian faith. There’s a real danger of writing theoretically, or even hypothetically, about Christianity. I know there have been times when I’ve written in that way. Where what I’ve said might be good and right and true, but it’s not something I’ve lived. And while there are times when that’s necessary, I would prefer to focus on helping others through what I have learned through what I’ve experienced, rather than what I only know in theory.

3. I’m not publishing just to hit publish.

Some writers seem to be a bottomless fount of wisdom. They appear to be able to meet a high frequency schedule and always leave readers walking away with something helpful. While I always tried to focus on publishing quality content, I know there were days when I was hitting publishing to service the schedule, and not you, the reader. So writing less helps me to ensure that what I’m writing is actually something that I believe will be beneficial to you instead of publishing for the sake of publishing.

Less benefits you more

There’s more that I could say about this, naturally. I didn’t even talk about the technical benefits to writing less, like having more time to adequately proofread. But hopefully what it all says is that by writing less frequently—or more correctly, publishing less often—I’m better able to serve you, the reader, with better work that matters. Because, truly, that’s what this is all about.

Posted by Aaron Armstrong

Aaron is the author of several books including the Big Truths Bible Storybook, Epic Devotions, Awaiting a Savior: The Gospel, the New Creation, and the End of Poverty, and Contend: Defending the Faith in a Fallen World. His next book, published by Lexham Press, will release in Spring 2023.