Home » Writing Advice » How To Write Better Without Becoming A Better Writer

How To Write Better Without Becoming A Better Writer

1 July 2016

From The Huffington Post:

Andre Iguodala, the 2015 NBA Finals MVP, likes to sleep.

It didn’t always used to be that way though. He used to have terrible sleeping habits. He used to stay up until 4am, watching the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and only then would he fall into a restless sleep for just a few hours. Then he’d sleep for a few more hours before playing a game in the evening. This was considered a “supplement” to the few hours he’d sleep at night.

Unsurprisingly, he’d end up exhausted during the game. More exhausted than a professional athlete should be.

It was only when he decided that enough was enough – the thing that happens before every big change in our lives – that he sought out a sleep therapist.

It worked. Iguodala experienced a 29% improvement in points per minute, and a 37% decrease in turnovers per game when he slept for 8 hours. Meaning 8 hours in row – not some split of a few hours here and a few hours there.

Another quick stat: players shoot 9.2% better from the 3 point line when they get 10 hours of sleep. For context: a player shooting 35% from the three-point line is an average three-point shooter. A player shooting 44% from the three-point line is an elite three-point shooter. More context: for this NBA season, shooting 44% would’ve made you the 5th most accurate three-point shooter in the NBA. Shooting 35% would’ve made you the 90th most accurate.

More sleep is the difference between average and elite.

. . . .

[W]riting has been easier than ever for the last couple of weeks.

Not because I’m using some writing tool. Or because I’ve spent more time writing. Or because I’m using some “hack”.

It’s because I’ve been taking care of myself.

This is how:

– I’ve been prioritising my sleep. I admit that I got completely sucked into the whole “entrepreneurs only sleep 4 hours a night” thing. I thought that’s what it took to be successful. I thought I had to work that “hard” to get what I wanted. That is false. If nothing else, Iguodala proves that. He slept more and performed better. And that’s exactly what’s happened with my writing. I’ve slept more, I’ve slept better, I’ve written better. It’s just like Iguodala says: “Sleep good, feel good, play good.”

– I’ve eaten like I love myself. I spent my whole life playing either football or basketball and so I’d get away with eating pretty much whatever I wanted. When I was at university, I used to drink two 500ml bottles of Pepsi during every basketball practice. Yeah. I know. But when I stopped playing basketball and started writing all the time, I got out of shape. Much more out of shape than I’d ever been. Fatter than I’d ever been. And then came the yo-yoing. I’d eat healthy, and then I’d eat a load of crap again. And then I’d get sick of myself and eat healthy again. And then I’d get bored and buy Krispy Kremes. And then I’d… yeah. I know.

Eating like this gave me no energy. No real energy, anyway. I’d maybe have a burst, but then I’d feel lethargic and demotivated and disgusted with myself.

I thought I wanted to eat junk food because it tasted so good. I didn’t think I wanted to eat healthy food because it didn’t taste as good. But all that said about me was that I was valuing how food tastes over what it does for me. How can that be right?

. . . .

– I’ve been more disciplined. I used to despise the thought of having a routine. I used to think I was above it. That I didn’t need one. That I’d never have one.

And then I started working for myself and that completely changed. Now I agree with Jocko Willink: “discipline equals freedom.”

I NEVER would’ve believed this a year ago. Not at all. I would’ve looked at you like you were a moron.

Then I tried not having a routine. And you know what happened? I honestly felt like my life was falling apart. I wasn’t eating right. I wasn’t sleeping right. I wasn’t writing consistently. I was writing every day… but it was sporadic. And unplanned. And a constant struggle.

I didn’t get it. Wasn’t NOT having a routine supposed to equal freedom? Wasn’t freedom doing whatever I wanted to do?

Apparently not. Because ever since I started using my routine, and ever since I became even more disciplined about it in the last couple of weeks, my life has been so much better.

I’ve been eating healthy food. I’ve been sleeping great. I’ve been writing consistently for a few hours every morning.

I’ve had more energy. I’ve been happier. I’ve been able to do the things I tell myself I want to do, and isn’t that freedom?

And is it any surprise that I’m writing better?

Link to the rest at The Huffington Post and thanks to Marilyn and others for the tip.

Writing Advice

12 Comments to “How To Write Better Without Becoming A Better Writer”

  1. I ditched my corporate career three years ago, and I don’t miss that schedule. However, when I started working from home, I still had a strict schedule – thanks to offspring.

    Now I’m having to come up with a new routine as my old “mom schedule” falls by the wayside. Rites of passage not just for the teen but for me, too: last week I took him to the DMV to do his test, and realized that all too soon, I won’t have all those pickups and drop offs on my schedule anymore.

    And yet, it feels somewhat stupid to set timers and windows for my day. (Cook here, eat here, clean here, write here, etc.).

    • It’s a HuffPo piece, and one should always take such with a grain (or ton) of salt.

      Just as some writers need to plan things out before writing and others just follow the flow, what helps your game may hurt mine.

      • Oh I didn’t even click through and read any more than was excerpted here. I’m just pointing out that sleep, and schedules, have value for a lot of people, and outside of constraints like day jobs and kid driving and such, it’s easy to “fall off the wagon” and not sleep regularly or eat regularly etc. 😉

  2. Barbara Morgenroth

    This could lead to a whole series of books.

    “How to Be a Better Person Without Doing Anything Nice”
    “How to Win a Gold Medal in Swimming Without Getting Wet”
    “How to Come Up With Really Great Ideas Without Doing All That Boring Thinking Stuff”

    • I know it’s a huffpiece but maybe I’ve missed something.
      I’m not seeing anything worthy of being slammed like this.

      • Agree. I thought what he said made perfect sense. Why does it matter where the piece was published?

  3. Good advice for any adult. Add a bit of exercise to it and voila! A grownup.

  4. I’ve done a lot of the same things. I made a commitment to get up early, stop playing video games, and write five thousand words a day.

    I’m up to 4k a day, and everything else I’m nailing.

    • I started doing better, ironically as per the quoted article, when I started ruthlessly self disciplining myself about sleep. I suffer from both insomnia and a lifelong case of the night owls. So when I didn’t have to get up in the morning to drive a child or get to a day job on time, I would lie awake all night, then sleep half the day. My sleep schedule would slide into something unrecognizable. It was wrecking my productivity.

      Once I committed to getting up at a 6:30am, no matter what is going on, things got better. I actually fall asleep better. I’m up to sleeping about 6.5 hours per night most nights. I go to bed at 10, even though it might take me 60 or 90 minutes to fall asleep.

      My alarm clock is our cats. I started feeding them canned food they like at 6:30. Now they are happy to remind me it’s time for them to eat, lol. One yells at me while the other one licks my face…

  5. Well, it’s an article with a click bait title, but I’ve been thinking for a while I need to make myself a “job” schedule, or I’ll never get anything done. It’s so easy to find the day has disappeared while I was “busy” doing something else. Nothing is getting written that way. 🙁

  6. Obligatory PSA – if you have any problems with sleep, especially if you snore or are not refreshed on waking, consult a sleep doctor. Apnea or hypopnea can cause a host of problems, especially in middle age, from increased risk of stroke, heart attack, diabetes and memory loss to elevated cholesterol and weight gain. Men with untreated a/h are more likely to develop atrial fibrillation (not fun, trust me). CPAP machines are small, practically noiselss and easy to use. A consult is a minor step that can have a major (positive) effect on your energy, anxiety and productivity.

  7. “How To Write Better Without Becoming A Better Writer”

    Or getting paid by HuffPo!

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.