Writing is one of the most important skills that you can develop. There is no better method for organizing your thoughts than developing your writing ability.
The following list highlights the importance of writing skills and why you need to master manipulating the written word.
Writing turns our thoughts into reality
For writing to be of any use, it has to be organized and sensible. This means that when you write down your thoughts, you impose order on them.
Once you impose this order, you’re one step close to taking what exists in your mind and manifesting it in the physical world. I can think of no more powerful process than this. Writing is, in the purest sense of the word, alchemy.
I don’t think people appreciate how wonderful it is that all non-naturally occurring things we see in this world were originally only plans and dreams in someone’s mind. Writing is the bridge between the realm of imagination and the domain of real life.
Writing helps you set goals
The mere act of writing down your plans gives them form in the real world. Although the form is only 2-dimensional potential, it acts as a lightning rod for all of the kinetic energies required to make it a reality. If this sounds too mystical or esoteric for you, I’ll present this idea to you in a more practical manner.
I have a whiteboard in my den. While I’m working on one project, I often have lots of ideas for things to do in the future. I also remember deadlines that I have to reach in the present.
It’s much easier to write those ideas down on the whiteboard rather than try to remember later or stop working now. If I tried to do that, I’d lose the energy I’m putting into whatever I’m working on. As long as I later revisit the notes I took, I’ve captured lightning and can make it available for later use.
Management30.com has a great post about the power of writing down your goals. In that post, they mention the following:
As humans, we process visuals 60,000 times faster than having to imagine things, based on a recent study by the 3M Company. Writing down your goals means that you can visually see them. This is an important point because when we see something, it affects how we act. You’re more likely to be productive if you can see what you have to do, instead of just thinking about it.
Writing will simply help you get where you want to be faster and easier.
Writing makes it easier to remember good ideas
The average person forgets many more ideas than they ever remember. If the ideas are forgotten, then this means that the ideas can’t be used. These flashes of insight and reflection are captured for later use by writing the ideas down.
Many of us have had that nagging experience of forgetting something that felt important at the time, but we couldn’t bring ourselves to remember when we needed it for later use.
When you get the habit of writing things down, you improve your ability to retain ideas–even those you don’t write down. This will happen naturally as you free up mental space by writing other things down.
Take this quote from Livesavvy.com about the science behind writing information down as proof of why writing is good for your memory:
When you write by hand, you actually give your brain’s encoding process a boost. Encoding refers to the process of sending information to your brain’s hippocampus, where the decision is made to either store the information long-term or let it go. If you write something by hand, all that complex sensory information increases the chances the knowledge will be stored for later. In short, writing by hand forces your brain to process information in a more detailed way, which helps you successfully load that information into your memory.
Writing improves your communication skills
The skill of writing forces you to slow down. It forces you to be deliberate.
In oral communication, you’re pressed to keep pace with the conversation and exercise a certain level of mental agility that, while sometimes advantageous, keeps you from thinking deeply and formulating the most appropriate response. When you sit down to write, you have all the time in the world to find the best words and the best combination of those words to express yourself most clearly.
It’s for this reason that writing should improve your ability to speak. According to business2community.com:
Increased articulation in your writing will spread to the ways that you talk and think. When you can put words on paper cleanly and clearly, it will become easier to do so in your speech. That, in turn, will translate to you being a better and more smooth communicator each day.
Writing will also make you a better educator. It doesn’t matter what you’re trying to teach, but your enhanced communication skills will make you a better teacher.
As you take the time to improve your ability to express yourself with high levels of accuracy and precision, you’ll find that you will also be much better able to speak on the fly. I think the reason for this is that when you deliberately practice putting together words effectively, you learn (via experience) the best communication patterns. Those patterns become instinctual.
Effective communicators are effective writers. Effective writing is powerful because communication can be a force that causes things to happen.
The more precise your communication, the closer your eventual reality will resemble what you’re trying to accomplish in your mind. Writing allows you to continuously refine and polish your message, choosing the words with the most impact to use at the right times. There is no substitute for this practice.
I have a great free guide that teaches you how to write using Twitter, the social media platform built for writers. Download The Breakdown here.
Writing improves your critical thinking skills
Even with podcasts and streaming video services, writing is still the best way to share your experiences and thoughts about a subject. This is because it’s impossible to read something passively.
Reading and comprehension always require engagement with the material in a manner that forces you to think about it. This is not the case with video or audio.
I think back to a debate I once had with someone. They argued that there’s no difference between reading for two hours and watching Netflix for two hours because two hours have passed with no actionable steps taken. While this may be technically true, you can zone out while watching a show on Netflix. It will be–most actively–a distraction or–most passively–one level above white noise as you fall asleep to it.
It’s impossible to read a book AND zone out or fall asleep. The moment you close your eyes, you stop taking in information from the book.
You can’t draw any meaning from the words without focusing. This means that reading even the worst book automatically demands concentration from you. This means that writing will also be an effective medium for transmitting information. It’s impossible to read something without at least engaging in some mode of critical thinking, even if it’s just to determine the sensibility of what is being said.
Writing makes you mentally tougher
If you want to do anything with your writing other than express your thoughts, you have to share your writing. Sharing your writing does two things for you: it gets you to face your fears about being criticized and exposes you to criticism. This is an important right of passage for anyone who wants to build a following.
While I don’t think that writers should aim to be popular, if you want to write for the public to read, you’ll eventually face public scrutiny. No matter what people say about your writing, the best advice I can give you is this:
They aren’t investing in building a body of work and taking the necessary risks to grow. They wish they dared to do something like put their writing out there. As the musician, Gnarls Barkley once said in his hit song “Crazy,” My heroes have the heart to live the life I wanna live.
Writing gives you a platform
The worst reason to write is for money.
Maybe you’ll make a little bit of money from your writing, but it’s doubtful that you will live off your writing sales along. However, it is now easy to build a small level of local fame via visitors to a website hosting your writing.
While this means learning SEO, posting on various social media platforms, and building an online presence, the single best way I’ve discovered to build a following is this:
Write for humans. That’s it.
All SEO and marketing boil down to taking advantage of what makes a person find something engaging. If you can trigger that in your writing, then you’re well on your way to having a tremendous impact and building a following.
You won’t need to stuff your pieces with keywords to the point where it sounds awkward, nor will you need to dumb it down so that it’s more palatable to a wider audience. You won’t need to focus on the hottest topics and trends, nor will you need to write about things you have no interest in simply because they’re popular topics.
If you write about what you care about, what you’re an expert in, or what you’re passionate about, the audience will naturally build itself around you.
I find true artists have difficulty selling themselves and their products. The old cliche of a starving artist is true, but only because the artist (in this case, the writer) thinks that they’re somehow dishonest or misleading to use.
If your writing comes from the heart, someone out there needs to read it. The only way they will find it is if you learn the basics of marketing, promotion, and building a following
A recap of why writing is important
Ultimately, I think you should write if you have something to say.
Your personality will steer you towards the appropriate genre for your expression or whatever idea you feel is important enough to put out in the world. Still, if you’re called to share your experiences and perspectives with people, you have no choice but to write.
To do anything else is to deprive the world of your unique perspective