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Tomorrow is the first day of NaNoWriMo 2019. I’ve been a writer for basically all my life, despite some difficulties along the way. Today I want to share with you 30 reasons I believe writing is important and makes an impact.
When I say “writing”, I mean any time you take a pen to paper or your fingers fly across the keyboard, filling a page on the screen. “Writing” means journaling, writing nonfiction, original fiction, fanfiction, freewriting—you name it, it probably counts.
1. Writing is an Essential Communication Skill
This is probably the most impactful reason why writing is important. If you can’t or don’t write, you probably find it more difficult to communicate with all sorts of people.
2. Writing Every Day Builds Discipline
In July 2018 I wrote a post on 10 reasons why you should write every day. Building a daily writing practice into your morning routine teaches you how to stick with doing something important.
3. Creative Writing Engages Both Sides of the Brain
The right side of the brain is the more creative side, while the left side is the more analytical and logical side. You need both sides to write anything, but especially creative writing. The right brain handles all the visions of what you want on the page, and the left side helps you put it down in a way that makes sense.
4. It Helps You Think Through Problems
Whenever I’m feeling stuck or I’m contemplating a problem, it helps to write it down and work through possible solutions on the page. This is especially helpful when writing longhand.
5. Written Word Influences Society
Journalists, bloggers, speech-writers… How we think as a society is largely thanks to what people write. This is why propaganda works.
6. We Wouldn’t Have Our History Without Writing
“History is written by the victors,” is a popular saying. But if we didn’t write it down, we wouldn’t have it at all. I just wish more people would study history, because if we don’t, we’re doomed to repeat it.
Another important thing we have because of this is the Bible. The Gospel of Jesus wouldn’t travel as far and as wide as it has today if the Biblical authors hadn’t written it.
7. Everyone Has a Book Inside Them
I’ve had books inside me all my life. I think everyone has a book inside, whether they realize it or not. It’s not necessarily a book of fiction. It could be a book of their experiences. Why do you think autobiographies are popular? People want to share their stories. And everyone has a story to tell. Writing is the only way to get that story into the hands of people who care.
8. Journaling Benefits Mental Health
This is a big one. Writing your thoughts is important for dealing with anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders. It also helps if you don’t have a diagnosable MH illness. You can have poor mental health without having an MH disorder, and writing your thoughts helps work through those feelings and moves you toward a better mental state.
Check out some of my preferred journaling tools here.
9. You’re More Likely to Achieve Written Goals
Depending on your personality, telling people your goals could either help or hurt. But writing them down—for everyone—is an important step in actually achieving your goals. According to research from the Dominican University in California, “You are 42 percent more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down.” I’ll take those odds!
10. Improvements Come from Practice
Everyone starts with sucky writing, including me. This reason is especially important because you will not improve your writing unless you practice it. If you accept that your earliest written words (and a lot of them in-between) will suck, then you’re miles ahead of the person who won’t pick up a pen because they’re afraid of how bad their writing is.
11. Well-Written Works are Respected More
This is an important one, especially in business settings. Poorly written memos, reports, emails, publications, presentations, and documentation sheds a bad light on the person who wrote it. When your writing is clear, concise, targeted, and proofread (by yourself or a grammar nerd), you don’t give people a reason to question your abilities.
That being said, I know some people are notoriously poor at writing, and don’t care. The problem with that is it creates more work for the people who read or quality check their writing.
12. All Excellent Communication Stems from Excellent Writing
Everything. Speeches, videos, meeting agendas, classes, letters, blogs, podcasts… If it’s communicated, it likely started in written form somewhere else. Off-the-cuff speaking is different, except that regular writing helps develop eloquent speech and quick thoughts. The words themselves may not have been written down beforehand, but prior writing helped develop the neural pathways for quick and clear speech.
13. Your Thoughts Are More Organized
It’s easier to see thought patterns after you write them down. This lets you figure out which thoughts to keep in your brain, and they’re more organized as a result. If you’ve ever felt like your thoughts are all over the place, try writing them down.
14. It Gets Your To-Dos Out of Your Head
David Allen, author of Getting Things Done, is famous for saying that your head is a terrible office. We actually can’t store more than four action items in our heads at any point. This means if your to-do list is 30 items long, you’ve already forgotten the last 26. Writing your to-dos is a good first step to actually getting things done. You should just never try to use your brain as the primary list.
15. Writing Clarifies Your Ideas for Yourself and Others
Sometimes an idea makes little sense until you can see it in words. It also helps when you’re trying to explain your idea to another person—if they can see it written down, it goes a long way for understanding.
16. The Audience Matters
Writing for a specific audience forces you to think about what makes sense from their point of view. This is especially important for content creators on the internet. If you don’t know exactly who you’re talking to (called an avatar or ideal customer) then your words fall flat and nobody pays attention. When you consider things from that person’s perspective, it becomes a lot easier to write to them in a way they’ll understand.
17. Writing Forms Bonds with Others
When I was younger, I traded frequent letters with my Grandma. I did the same thing when my best friend lived in a different state for five years. My strengths have always been in writing… So when I feel the need to tell someone something important, it helps to write it down first, or just pour all of it into a letter. Nowadays, sending letters like that is rare, which makes them even more special when someone takes the time to write one.
18. Writing is a Legitimate Career
Authors, bloggers, freelance writers… What do these people have in common? They’re making money with their writing! Writing is 100% a legit career for those with the determination and grit to put in the work. Full-time authors work their butts off writing their books. Sometimes they supplement with freelance writing or editing—all in the writing sphere. Freelance copywriters like Danny Margulies are killing it right now.
19. Writing is an Important Work Skill
This goes back to communication. In any job, you’ll have to write at least something. Emails, reports, post-it notes on your boss’s desk… Writing well means the people reading it don’t waste time and effort trying to decipher what you wrote. It also means there’s no confusion about a message you (or someone else) meant to send. Nothing’s worse than a CEO writing a company-wide email that sparks panic because she used vague wording and didn’t consider her audience.
20. Written Reflection Helps Us Define Better Paths Forward
“Visualization” is big right now. I’m great at visualizing how my fiction stories play out in my head, but not so much with visualizing how I want things to unfold in the real world. This is where writing really helps me. Freewriting reflections and thoughts helps me figure out how I want things to unfold. It helps me decide which paths to take and work through my thoughts more efficiently than mulling them over in my brain.
21. Writing Your Fears and Worries Shrinks Their Impact
Tim Ferriss takes this to a deeper level he calls “Fear Setting.” Often, the things we’re afraid of seem so big because they’re big in our minds. Writing them down puts them into the real world, and most of the time once we write them down we wonder why we were ever afraid of those things.
A big, abstract fear in the brain is a lot scarier than forcing that fear into words so you can think about it. Getting those fears onto a piece of paper shrinks their impact. I’ve also heard that it helps some people to write their fears down and then burn them… Sounds fun!
22. Concise Writing Quickly Transmits Ideas
Have you ever read Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic book The Scarlet Letter? I have. I read it in high school and instantly learned what not to do with a paragraph. Hawthorne loved long sentences with infinite commas, semicolons, and flowery language. It hurt my brain to muddle through a single sentence which often made up an entire paragraph. Think about that for a moment… One sentence, long enough to look like a paragraph.
Concise writing is important because you don’t want to lose your readers halfway through the first line of your work. Avoiding jargon, flowery language, and unnecessary run-on sentences makes everyone happier.
23. Writing Cements Ideas
Ideas can feel vague until they’re written down. This is a core principle with business plans, goals, research, and communication. It’s easier to identify what’s realistic when you write your ideas and see how they take shape and solidify.
24. Regular Writing Improves Vocabulary & Other Communication Skills
If you want to write well, read. If you want to write like a pro, write. The more often you write, the better you become at your speechmaking skills and other communication skills. Regular writing is important for developing your critical thinking skills.
25. For Some, Writing is a Fun Pastime
Everybody finds entertainment in different ways. One of mine is writing, especially fanfiction. Writing for fun stimulates creative juices that bleed over into other areas of your life. Imagine if a quick 10-minute creative writing session helped you solve a problem you were thinking about at work!
26. Writing Lets You Explore Other Options
Like I mentioned earlier, I have a hard time visualizing real-life situations unfolding how I want them to. I use writing as a workaround. When I write a visualization as if it were a scene in a book, it lets me “see” it more clearly than trying to imagine it in my mind. Doing it this way lets me write the same “scene” multiple different ways, or write a series of “scenes” representing steps to take.
27. Understanding How to Write Can Help You Read Between the Lines
When you really understand how to write, you’ll find yourself capable of reading in between the lines. Sometimes people write cagily, trying to say something that masks something else underneath. I see this a lot in politics, especially around election time. Because I know a) writing styles and b) underlying values, it’s easier to see party lines or true beliefs even if the candidate is “non-partisan.”
28. Every Single Company Needs Good Writers
Without writers, we wouldn’t have such iconic slogans as we do right now. The first one that comes to mind is Nike’s “Just Do It.” Three simple words, strung together in such a way that everyone immediately knows it’s Nike—and those words encompass what Nike is about. Companies fail without good writers to communicate the company’s mission and values.
29. Writing Improves Social Skills
By now, it should surprise you to learn that writing improves your social skills. Because writing is an important method for developing communication skills, that translates over to social situations. Writing helps you with the ability to form clear, cohesive thoughts. All that’s left is actually saying them!
30. No One Else Can Write Like You
Finally, writing is important because no one else can write like you. Everyone has their own style and voice. I can imitate J.K. Rowling’s writing style, and it’s definitely influenced mine, but no one on earth can claim to have my exact voice when I write. And that’s amazing! It means no one else can say what I have to say, in the way I say it with the written word.
And that’s a powerful thing.
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