Some of us have a writing compulsion; thoughts, characters, and stories have no choice but to pour out of the ink of our pens. Then there are others who resent having to write a post-it. But regardless of your proclivity, the benefits of writing can be accessible to everyone.
Not everyone is meant to write novels, but everyone has something to say and something to write. Whether you write for an audience of thousands, or an audience of one, the act of writing can be transformative.
When you are writing -no matter what you are writing- is a personal experience. There will always be a little piece of yourself in what you write, sometimes it will be blatant, while at other times it will be subtle. Whichever the case, it is an opportunity to understand yourself better. Writing is a solitary activity, one that gives you silence and a moment to think deeply.
If you are not sure what you want to write, write anything. Write about your inability to think about what to write, write about how bored you are, write a detailed description about how the trees move in the breeze; write anything. In some cases you may end up writing about your day, a journal of sorts. Putting into words your daily frustrations or joys will put your feelings and experiences into perspective. Writing it onto paper, typing it on a computer screen, or even on a typewriter, will feel cathartic, like someone is listening to you when no one is there.
This outpouring of emotions can let you relive them and release them. It’s like your own private therapy session, you as the psychiatrist dissecting your own mind. Perhaps you’re not the appropriate doctor to treat yourself, but it does make you feel great. You can feel weightless with the free flow of emotions set free by a row of ink or pixels.
This is not only beneficial to you now, it’s also beneficial to the future you. Writing today is like taking a detailed self-portrait, a vignette encapsulating a younger version of you. One day you may want to meet this younger self again, and this is a way to talk to him or her. As you get older you change; your personality, your thoughts, and your ideals will be different and there is a reason for that. Writing can help you understand yourself better by knowing who you were and who you have become.
The wonderful thing about it is that you have no reason to feel insecure or afraid because no one other than yourself has to ever read what you have written. Kurt Vonnegut once said in a letter to English students:
“Tear it up into teeny-weeny little pieces… you will find that you have already been gloriously rewarded...learned a lot more about what’s inside you, and you have made your soul grow.”
All that is required of you is to be honest.
“Write the truest sentence that you know.” - E.M Hemingway
Searching to put sentiments into manageable, clear words can help you become more articulate than you’ve ever been before. This is a gift, a solution to a problem that might plague you. There is nothing more frustrating than fumbling in expressing yourself casually, professionally or romantically. And inversely there is nothing more satisfying than a perfectly expressed succinct thought. There is an overwhelming feeling of knowing, a command of your thoughts, and a command of language.
Humans are social creatures by nature and that makes communication a vital component to happiness. Being at a loss for words and trying to catch wind is a bottleneck of your thoughts and a stranglehold on your mind, it holds you back. The world is a lonely place if it only exists in your own mind. That is why you should seek to be articulate, and that’s why you should try writing. To connect and feel connected. Share your thoughts and experiences in such a way that you will not just be heard, but understood as well.
Being understood will be important to you no matter what your profession is. From the most basic forms of communication, like emails and memos, to speaking without rehearsal in a meeting or presentation, being able to make other people understand you is essential.
In just about any job you will be required to form opinions and develop work on your own and communicate those thoughts to your coworkers and bosses. An inability to do so can compromise what could be brilliant work on your part. The successful transition from individual work to team collaboration is almost entirely dependent on this ability to convey your intended message. Writing can be a training ground to not only build up the skill of writing itself, but to also mould yourself into a well-spoken, eloquent team member.
You can be this team member by teaching yourself asynchronously. You don’t necessarily have to learn by doing, rather you can learn by pausing and visualizing the goal and how to achieve it. It is essentially like having a whole long winded retort to a conversation that occurred moments ago, but in which you missed the chance to answer intelligently. Writing can be like taking those absurd fictional shower arguments and turning them into something that can actually help you improve your articulation. Writing is essentially an imitation of speech. When you take the time to process your thoughts as accurately as you can and you do this over and over again, the clarity of your verbal communication can change for the better.
Yes, writing can be a cathartic shedding of the doom and gloom that defines the human condition. Yes, you can gain a valuable trait in clarity. Yes, you can make sure your brilliant ideas are heard and understood just as they should be. But at the end of the day writing can be a really fun hobby. Whether it’s a fictional story or a retelling of your day and your personal experiences, it can be relaxing and satisfying.
It does not matter if you are a world class writer or storyteller, just write. There should be no reason to worry about the subject or content or whether or not it really makes sense at all when you start. It is more about the experience. Think of it as doodling, you wouldn’t be embarrassed by some dumb little drawing of a stick figure, so why worry about words. It can be a playground to dive into your imagination and bring it to life, so embrace it.
Now if you did find real joy in your new hobby and want to make more out of it, there are so many other useful lessons to be learned.
Toughen your Resolve
If you find yourself wanting to write all the time you might start to consider submitting your ramblings to make some money.
However, you need to take into account that this process of creating something with your whole heart and fighting through self-doubt to complete it, can quickly be rejected by someone else. This can be soul-crushing. Writing will inevitably force you to recognize failure.
Maybe you will write full-time or maybe you’ll write as a hobby with potential financial benefits. Regardless, there are life lessons to be gained in perseverance amid self-doubt and rejection. The ability to overcome the mechanical nature of business is something special and something to be marvelled.
Do you write? Share your experiences in the comment section below.