I have a saying I like to use on my blog: “We’re all writers.”
Usually I’m referring to anyone who creates–artists, musicians, programmers, and, yes, writers.
In this case, however, I’m actually telling you that you should consider writing. Like pencil-and-paper or computer-and-word-processor writing.
Now, understand that I do have a slight bias: I run a writing website (see my bio), have written a few books, and teach others how to write.
But the truth is, I wouldn’t have considered myself “a writer” a year ago. Sure, I was working on my first novel, but that was for fun–just to see if I could do it. It was an eye-opening process, and the biggest takeaway I got from it was pretty much the title of this post: Why you should write.
Bear with me here: I understand you might revolt against the thought of churning out essay after essay about topics you could hardly care less about, or busting out 3,000-plus word per weekend.
I did too.
But there are a few things to consider here:
- Writing is the primary basis by which your work (professional and otherwise) will be judged. Fair or not, this is true.
- Writing helps you move your level of understanding beyond a line of “gut feeling” toward a more universal conceptualization. In other words, it helps you think.
- Writing can make you more money.
I doubt anyone would argue these points with me, but I don’t everyone to be reaching for a pad of paper or opening Microsoft Word just yet. Even you’re on board with the benefits of writing, there are still a few things you’re probably concerned about:
- Writing takes time. Sometimes, a lot of time.
- Writing takes practice. Practice, by definition, also takes time.
- Writing takes patience, and even then–we may not know what to write about.
Good arguments, all. But you happen to be on one of the Internet’s best sites for productivity and motivation–so that’s a good place to start for combatting the first two points. The third (so called “writer’s block”) is something you can’t really prevent as much as just learn to ignore.
But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s look at some more specific reasons we should focus on our writing–no matter what industry you’re in:
- It can help promote you as an expert. Writing has long been relegated to experts–at least the kinds of writing the general public “sees.” Published books and articles, magazines, and even screenplays and scripts have usually required the writer to get past a high “barrier for entry” to be accepted. This barrier has caused–justifiably or not–the general public to view these writers and creators as “experts.” Well guess what? It’s no longer necessary to jump through those same hoops. “Expertise” can come in many forms now that were unavailable to us even ten years ago: blogging, writing eBooks, creating videos, etc. You still need to focus on the quality, because now there’s a much lower barrier for entry (or a nonexistent one), but that’s okay. The practice needed to push you to the top of the pack is well worth the effort, and will only solidify your status as a true expert.
- It can teach you things you never knew about yourself. “How early can you really get up in the morning? How late can you stay up? How many cups of coffee does is take to…”.These aren’t just questions left to be answered by the “self-experimenters” out there. When I first started writing–really writing–I found I needed a much different schedule than I’d been maintaining. It turned out that waking up before the crack of dawn and getting 4-5 hours of sleep wasn’t going to kill me (at least not in small spurts!). The habits you’ll develop by maintaining a writing schedule can bleed into other areas of your life very easily and effectively. Your work might get easier to complete, allowing you to take on more responsibility and get a raise. Or you might find yourself taking on more duties outside of your work life, like freelancing and ghostwriting. That leads us to the next point:
- Writing could generate a passive income stream for you. Who doesn’t want a totally passive income stream? No one I know. While it’s admittedly very difficult to build an entire lifestyle around a single passive income stream, it’s not at all challenging to use writing to bolster your biweekly paycheck. I keep an active blog that generates a small amount of advertising income, I try to write a few short eBooks per month (that then are uploaded to Amazon and other electronic bookstores), and I have some other avenues I’m exploring that will hopefully turn into more money down the road. I don’t write specifically for the income, but it’s certainly a welcome addition to my bank account every once in a while. If you start small and figure out what it is you love to write about, then build a community of people around it, you might find yourself having more freedom to work on your own terms!
How to start writing
There’s certainly a lot more to writing well than “just write,” but there’s no simpler way to actually start. Here’s my approach:
Regardless of your industry, there’s someone out there who would benefit from your expertise and knowledge. Your job, then, is to find them and write something specifically for them.
I like to imagine myself, five or ten years ago (or twenty!), and try to write something that would benefit that version of me. Do the same, and you’ll probably end up with a cool manifesto of the “Basics of [Whatever You Do].” You can offer that as an eBook on your website, or you can try to incorporate it into your day-to-day workflow (like a Standard Operating Procedure document).
The choice is yours, and the possibilities are limitless. Writing doesn’t need to be a daunting task, and most writers often mention that it’s one of the most therapeutic and relaxing parts of their day.
Give it a shot, and see what you think! If you need help, I’m only a click away!
(Photo credit: Laptop with Blank Notepad via Shutterstock)