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Why You Should Be a Writer

Why You Should Be a Writer


    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.

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    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.

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    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:

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    1. 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.
    2. 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:
    3. 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.

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    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)

    More by this author

    Nick Thacker

    Nick is a novelist and founder of Sonata & Scribe. He shares productivity hacks on Lifehack.

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    Last Updated on November 9, 2020

    10 Real Reasons Why Breaking Bad Habits Is So Difficult

    10 Real Reasons Why Breaking Bad Habits Is So Difficult

    Bad habits expose us to suffering that is entirely avoidable. Unfortunately, breaking bad habits is difficult because they are 100% dependent on our mental and emotional state.

    Anything we do that can prove harmful to us is a bad habit – drinking, drugs, smoking, procrastination, poor communication are all examples of bad habits. These habits have negative effects on our physical, mental, and emotional health.

    Humans are hardwired to respond to stimuli and to expect a consequence of any action. This is how habits are acquired: the brain expects to be rewarded a certain way under certain circumstances. How you initially responded to certain stimuli is how your brain will always remind you to behave when the same stimuli are experienced.

    If you visited the bar close to your office with colleagues every Friday, your brain will learn to send you a signal to stop there even when you are alone and eventually not just on Fridays. It will expect the reward of a drink after work every day, which can potentially lead to a drinking problem.

    Kicking negative behavior patterns and steering clear of them requires a lot of willpower, and there are many reasons why breaking bad habits is so difficult.

    1. Lack of Awareness or Acceptance

    Breaking a bad habit is not possible if the person who has it is not aware that it is a bad one.

    Many people will not realize that their communication skills are poor or that their procrastination is affecting them negatively, or even that the drink they had as a nightcap has now increased to three.

    Awareness brings acceptance. Unless a person realizes on their own that a habit is bad, or someone manages to convince them of the same, there is very little chance of the habit being kicked.

    2. No Motivation

    Going through a divorce, not being able to cope with academic pressure, and falling into debt are instances that can bring a profound sense of failure with them. A person going through these times can fall into a cycle of negative thinking where the world is against them and nothing they can do will ever help, so they stop trying altogether.

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    This give-up attitude is a bad habit that just keeps coming around. Being in debt could make you feel like you are failing at maintaining your home, family, and life in general.

    If you are looking to get out of a rut and feel motivated, take a look at this article: Why Is Internal Motivation So Powerful (And How to Find It)

    3. Underlying Psychological Conditions

    Psychological conditions such as depression and ADD can make it difficult to start breaking bad habits.

    A depressed person may find it difficult to summon the energy to cook a healthy meal, resulting in food being ordered in or consumption of packaged foods. This could lead to a habit that adversely affects health and is difficult to overcome.

    A person with ADD may start to clean their house but get distracted soon after, leaving the task incomplete, eventually leading to a state where it is acceptable to live in a house that is untidy and dirty.

    The fear of missing out (FOMO) is very real to some people. Obsessively checking their social media and news sources, they may believe that not knowing of something as soon as it is published can be catastrophic to their social standing.

    4. Bad Habits Make Us Feel Good

    One of the reasons it is difficult to break habits is that a lot of them make us feel good.[1]

    We’ve all been there – the craving for a tub of ice cream after a breakup or a casual drag on a joint, never to be repeated until we miss how good it made us feel. We succumb to the craving for the pleasure felt while indulging in it, cementing it as a habit even while we are aware it isn’t good for us.

    Overeating is a very common bad habit. Just another pack of chips, a couple of candies, a large soda… none of these are necessary for survival. We want them because they give us comfort. They’re familiar, they taste good, and we don’t even notice when we progress from just one extra slice of pizza to four.

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    You can read this article to learn more: We Do What We Know Is Bad for Us, Why?

    5. Upward Comparisons

    Comparisons are a bad habit that many of us have been exposed to since we were children. Parents might have compared us to siblings, teachers may have compared us to classmates, and bosses could compare us to past and present employees.

    The people who have developed the bad habit of comparing themselves to others have been given incorrect yardsticks for measurement from the start.

    These people will always find it difficult to break out of this bad habit because there will always be someone who has it better than they do: a better house, better car, better job, higher income and so on.

    Research shows that in the age of social media, social comparisons are much easier and can ultimately harm self-esteem if scrolling becomes a bad habit[2].

    6. No Alternative

    This is a real and valid reason why breaking bad habits is difficult. These habits could fulfill a need that may not be met any other way.

    Someone who has physical or psychological limitations, such as a disability or social anxiety, may find it hard to quit obsessive content consumption for better habits.

    Alternately, a perfectly healthy person may be unable to quit smoking because alternates are just not working out.

    Similarly, a person who bites their nails when anxious may be unable to relieve stress in any other socially accepted manner.

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    7. Stress

    As mentioned above, anything that stresses us out can lead to adopting and cementing an unhealthy habit.

    When a person is stressed about something, it is easy for bad habits to form because the mental resources required to fight them are not available[3].

    We often see a person who had previously managed to kick a bad habit fall back into the old ways because they felt their stress couldn’t be managed any other way.

    If you need some help reducing stress, check out the following video for some healthy ways to get started:

    8. Sense of Failure

    People looking to kick bad habits may feel a strong sense of failure because it’s just that difficult.

    Dropping a bad habit usually means changes in lifestyle that people may be unwilling to make, or these changes might not be easy to make in spite of the will to make them.

    Overeaters need to empty their house of unhealthy food, resist the urge to order in, and not pick up their standard grocery items from the store. Those who drink too much need to avoid the bars or even people who drink often.

    If such people slip even once with a glass of wine, or a smoke, or a bag of chips, they tend to be excessively harsh on themselves and feel like failures.

    9. The Need to Be All-New

    People who are looking to break bad habits feel they need to re-create themselves in order to break themselves of their bad habits, while the truth is the complete opposite.

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    These people actually need to go back to who they were before they developed the bad habit and try to create good habits from there.

    10. Force of Habit

    Humans are creatures of habit, and having familiar, comforting outcomes for daily triggers helps us maintain a sense of balance in our lives.

    Consider people who are used to lighting up a cigarette every time they talk on the phone or eating junk food when watching TV. They will always associate a phone call with a puff on the cigarette and screen time with eating.

    These habits, though bad, are a source of comfort to them, as is meeting with those people they indulge in these bad habits with.

    Final Thoughts

    These are the main reasons why breaking bad habits is difficult, but the good news is that the task is not impossible. Breaking habits takes time, and you’ll need to put long-term goals in place to replace a bad habit with a good one.

    There are many compassionate, positive and self-loving techniques to kick bad habits. The internet is rich in information regarding bad habits, their effects and how to overcome them, while professional help is always available for those who feel they need it.

    More on Breaking Bad Habits

    Featured photo credit: NORTHFOLK via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] After Skool: Why Do Bad Habits Feel SO GOOD?
    [2] Psychology of Popular Media Culture: Social comparison, social media, and self-esteem.
    [3] Stanford Medicine: Examining how stress affects good and bad habits

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