Writing is one of those happy discoveries of my life that has helped me understand myself and my purpose – so I write everyday. It is the only place I found where past, present and future can co-exist at the same time.
Most of us are quick to declare that we’re not writers – but how many emails and text messages do we write in a day? Writing is essentially thoughts transferred on a page. So essentially anyone who can think and write is a writer, even if we don’t have the chops to mesh with J.K. Rowling or Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
In most cases, writing is most useful as a tool for thinking, and expression, and I often find myself pressing my teammates, my friends, and random strangers on the sidewalk to make writing a regular habit. And I don’t do this just to fill the hollow hours in my day – it’s because I genuinely believe it is one of those habits that has helped me become a better version of myself. Here’s how:
Become a better communicator
How often have you thought ‘it sounded better in my head’ or were ‘unable to find the right words’ to describe exactly how you felt? Sometimes we find that our words just stumble, leaving us feeling extremely frustrated. Fortunately, regular writing can offer some reprieve.
When I started to write regularly, I found myself becoming more confident in my speech. Laziness with words creates difficulty in describing feelings, or situations. When you start writing regularly, you explore your feelings in the presence of your inner editor – this allows you to articulate them clearly and become a better communicator.
Become calmer and more collected
I have found writing to be therapeutic when coping with my adversities. It not only helps me understand my anger, fear, and disappointments, but also turns them into an exercise of self-examination. I have found expressive writing and journaling to be an outlet to de-stress, to improve my mood, and to untangle life’s many confusions. Writing has made me calmer, more collective, and resilient.
Writing is a ritual that gives form to my thoughts and ideas, and gets them out of my head. It feels like off-loading the clutter in my mind after a long day and freeing up precious bandwidth – preventing me from crashing from information overload.
Become more deliberate about my actions
Writing forces me to be deliberate, because the act of etching words on paper (or typing it on my computer screen) suddenly makes it seem more real. I have become mindful of what I write and how it becomes true. Writing my goals has been essential in helping me visualise it – and that in turn has helped me develop a mind set that makes my ambitions possible. Understanding exactly what we want is the foundation for our success.
This is why most forward thinking companies have their mission statements posted on their walls – the words reinforce the message and forces the reader to absorb it.
Become more self-aware
For most of my life, things would happen all around me. I’d see and hear them but fail to observe or listen, to fully experience them. When I started writing, I found myself making an intentional effort to observe others and myself. This helped me understand how I react and respond to things on a daily basis. After several months, I noticed patterns and these patterns provide learning opportunities for me to make changes where necessary. I also found myself living with more purpose and doing things I know I will be proud to write about later.
Become a better listener
When I started writing about my day, I started listening more – not just to the things that were happening around me but also to what other people had to say. One of the things that I love writing about more than anything are real stories about real people. When I am deliberate about uncovering a story, I find myself asking more questions, instead of consuming the entire conversation – and paying close attention to what the person has to say. This has helped me build deeper friendships and sought after individuals I know I can learn from, and find stories I want to write about.
I find listening to be the highest test of empathy, of tolerance, and also one of the best ways to learn new things.
Become a faster learner (and learn a lot more)
I’ve found information sticks better when it’s written in my own words, and it has also helped me communicate highly complex ideas more effectively. Writing helps crystallise my thinking – it helps me make sense of foreign information while reinforcing what I already knew.
There is a certain discipline needed when it comes to writing interesting content everyday. I find myself not only being more receptive and focused during daily interactions, but when consuming new information. I am forced to read a great deal more – to constantly practice learning, unlearning, and relearning. I have become better at curating ideas – when I am constantly finding new sources of information and inspiration, I am forced to always carry a beginner’s mind, and think deeper and harder in order to find unique takes on topics that matter to me.
Become more confident
There is something very terrifying about sharing my written work – especially about my personal experiences. Its like sharing a piece of my soul and then realising that no one bothered to read it, or worse hated it entirely. However, with each article I publish, the fear subsides a tiny bit. The fear of being judged does not disappear, but I do it scared anyway. I may not be 100% happy with my work, but i realised constant practice and being open to feedback – both good and bad, is the only way I can improve.
This confidence carries over into other areas of life too. I’m now more open to sharing my ideas and letting others judge my output in business. I’m less defensive when others provide critical feedback, and ok with making mistakes, and occasionally a complete fool of myself.
But writing everyday is difficult – especially in today’s world when we have a 10,000 commitments a day. I’m not saying we need to write for an audience, or match the volumes of Tolstoy. I’m sharing these 7 points as a way to help nudge those of you who want to make writing a habit. Building a habit is never easy, and I often find myself missing a day or two (or ten) but writing this post is much a reminder for myself, than it is for you, to keep writing. So long as we understand that it is a work in progress, the benefits will uncover eventually.
For most of my writing, I follow a specific formula. I find connections between my life experiences and my areas of expertise. Some days the connection is obvious. Other days I need to work a little bit harder to find the dots. The process of assembling the story and drawing conclusions teaches me to always look at the bigger picture. Writing is my form of meditation – it has allowed me to find myself when I was looking for answers. But most importantly, it is helping me build courage consistently to pursue my dream, and who knows? Maybe one day I’ll have just enough to publish my first book too.