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10 Reasons You Should Write Something Each Day

10 Reasons You Should Write Something Each Day

    The written word is a part of every day life. At its most basic, writing is a way of communicating. This is the one inalienable characteristic of writing itself, whether you’re communicating with a colleague or friend or you’re actually communicating with yourself – though a shopping list, for instance.

    Aside from the fact that writing is an inescapable part of every day life, there are many good reasons you should make a good session of writing part of your daily routine, even if it’s just a few hundred words. You don’t have to be a pro to reap the benefits of creating the written word.

    1. Remove stress from mind, place on paper

    Writing can be therapeutic. It can be a way to vent all the pent-up frustrations burdening your mind into a far less volatile form, paper (or screen). You can address your anger, fear, worry and stress without bludgeoning the person who embodies those emotions for you with a paperweight.

    Writing can serve as a form of cathartic stress relief where you finally get to say what you can’t say out loud, in real life. Just don’t let your vented feelings get into the wrong hands, or you may end up paying some pretty hefty blackmail cash.

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    2. Sweep Your Mind

    A daily writing habit gives you regular time to sweep your mind for forgotten tasks and ideas that have been fermenting in the back of your head without your knowledge. It allows you to take the unordered thoughts floating around your head like lost puppies in zero gravity, and turn them into ordered plans and actions.

    This is the fundamental principle that the mindsweep and weekly review are based on: getting everything you can think of out of your head, and into a written format. This simple process can save your life when things are getting overwhelming and complicated.

    3. Keep Your Writing Skills Sharp

    Write every day to keep your skill with the written word sharp. Like any skill, the ability to communicate clearly, concisely and aesthetically degrades without practice. As a result, many people who don’t write regularly can freeze up, lost for words, on something so simple as an email to a friend.

    Writing every day, even in a stream-of-consciousness, unedited format will maintain and gradually improve your writing skills, and since dealing with the written word is a fundamental part of daily modern life, there’s nothing bad about that.

    4. Make Some Pocket Money

    If you’re not a professional writer, pocket money is probably all you’ll ever want to earn from your words. But if you’ve got a knack for it and just had a great dinner at a new restaurant and written about it for your daily pages, then isn’t it better to have a shot at getting that review published instead of letting the piece do absolutely nothing?

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    These days, it’s easy to submit to many publications without spending considerable time and money doing so. While you’re unlikely to get too many bites without a good track record as a writer, it’s certainly easy enough to be worth the effort, and your wallet will be pleased.

    5. Turn the Noise Off

    Get away from the constant low-quality input and output systems of day-to-day life, such as meaningless small-talk and weather conversations, text messaging, Twitter, checking the mailbox, and most email and many websites. You receive and create barrages of useless distractions that don’t help you or the people you know; sitting down to write lets you get away from it all.

    It’s important to keep the noise to a minimum so you can focus on creating and receiving strong material, things that are really worth reading and writing.

    6. Enhance Your Communication Skills

    Use daily writing to enhance your communication skills. In this culture, communication is so often hampered because we don’t know how to express ourselves, whether it be verbal or written. Writing regularly can hone the skill of self-expression, something that is useful in written communications such as email, and that can translate into improved verbal communication.

    If you have trouble communicating what you want or asking tough questions, regular writing will give you a mind for structuring words quickly to achieve the desired affect in a diplomatic way.

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    7. Know What You Want

    Part of the reason so many people do not get what they want in life is because they do not know what they want from it. Certainly not the main reason that people don’t get what they want, but in so many cases it is the obstacle. How can you get what you want or achieve your dreams if you’re not 100% clear on what they are?

    Writing each day gives you time to think carefully and reflect on what you want to achieve the most, and develop a clearer, achievable image and plan for that result.

    8. Develop Your Analytical Skills

    Writing regularly develops your analytical and rational skills. Working through your problems with a piece of paper encourages you to think things through clearly, in both linear (sequential) and non-linear (creative) ways. The best solutions come from a mix of both logical and creative thinking.

    Many people tend to panic and react emotionally to their problems, but if you’re used to solving them by processing each component of the problem in writing, you’ll develop a better approach and skillset. You’ll at least pause to think through the situation before hitting the panic button next time something comes up!

    9. Get Away from Technology

    In #5 we talked about turning the noise off for a while, which comes from all sorts of sources – not just tech-related sources. But another problem of ours is our dependence on technology, and it seems that everything that can be done on a computer, is done on a computer.

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    If you opt to use a pen and paper instead of a computer, you give yourself valuable time away from technology to gather your thoughts without constant, meaningless interruptions and distractions. But more importantly, you give yourself time with the tactile and real.

    10. Meet Yourself All Over Again

    In a fast-paced society it’s easy to forget things like what you believe in and what you’re doing this (whatever this may be) for. Letting words flow out of your brain unedited can introduce you to a part of yourself you’d been censoring from yourself to cope with everyday life. Why did you start down the path you’re currently on? This is an important question whether you consider your current path to have begun on the weekend, or a decade ago.

    Discontentment, disillusionment, and unhappiness often come from forgetting why we’re doing something (or, on a different track, not having a good reason for living a certain way) and it is important to keep those simple reasons at the forefront of your mind or you run the risk of letting your life become a series of boring, menial actions.

    It’s not only important to remind yourself of your motives for your current actions; it’s important to monitor your actions to see if they align with your life goals so that you can change them. Sometimes, the only way to keep such a close monitor on your actions and goals is to write about them every day.

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    Joel Falconer

    Editor, content marketer, product manager and writer with 12+ years of experience in the startup, design and tech digital media industries.

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    Last Updated on August 20, 2019

    Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

    Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

    Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

    This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

    The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard. Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

    Curiosity

    Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

    People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

    Patience

    Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

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    When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

    Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

    A Feeling for Connectedness

    This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

    A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

    The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

    With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

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    1. Research

    Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

    Learning the Basics

    Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

    Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

    What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

    Hitting the Books

    Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

    Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

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    Long-Term Reference

    While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

    My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

    2. Practice

    Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

    A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

    Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

    3. Network

    One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

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    These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

    Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

    4. Schedule

    For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

    Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

    Final Thoughts

    In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

    If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

    At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

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    Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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