There’s this quote from Instagram a few days ago which resonated in me. It said, “I was busy taking deeper breaths. I was busy silencing irrational thoughts. I was busy calming a racing heart. I was busy telling myself I am okay.” This especially reflected my mind when I was still in college, where a lot of external necessities occupied my schedule, leaving me with no room to breathe until it was time for the unattended chaos inside of me to explode through the perceived emptiness of everything.
Indeed, the world has become a fray full of organizations and individuals trying to compete against each other through profit-oriented productivity. This siphons a lot of time and energy from people, rendering them unable to do a lot of creative and/or introspective work which would actually touch the most essential aspects of our lives that we oftentimes neglect.
So let’s take a step back for a bit and talk about writing.
Why You Should Write
Writing has been one of, if not the greatest salvation that I have back in the day. I would spend most of my free time drinking coffee somewhere, contemplating about my life and a lot of external and internal things, and typing thoughts in one of the diary apps on my phone. It wasn’t something other people told me to do. It has been a habit of mine to record ideas in such a seemingly obsessive fashion.
But I was and still am doing that for many reasons. For one, it allows me to examine how I think and act, and allows for future improvements on efficiency and effectiveness. It offers a lot of opportunities to work on artistic ideas over time, many of which are story ideas which I stitched together later on to form the plot of the novel series I plan to publish in the future. Writing also gives me a room to breathe, a space to let my thoughts out along with emotions I cannot afford other people to know about. These and many other reasons sustain my habit of writing throughout the years.
And so, if I would advise other people on something, I would tell them to write. I can guarantee that writing can benefit them on so many levels, and that it would be one of the greatest habits one could possibly develop in their lives.
If you’re not convinced by my personal justifications for why I love writing, though, then here are five reasons why you should write.
To see the world differently
Finding words to describe the blueness of the day, the darkness of the twilight of youth, the bottomlessness of the abyss of desire, and the beauty of living life in accordance to what you believe in is something which can tread the realm of poetry and art. Writing brings forth from us imageries for even the most abstract of ideas. It evokes from us justifications for the most unexplainable things in existence. Indeed, the more we try to grasp the impossible through the powers of writing, the more we would find the world to be a lot more that what we previously thought it could be.
There is a certain sense of mystery regarding the effects of producing words to the perception of meaning. Language, we know, gives structure to how we think. And ironically, writing allows us to input more by processing and outputting through words the things we perceive. It therefore gives birth to this seemingly neverending upwards spiral of discovery and appreciation.
But if we could just let ourselves be immersed by that process we come to experience through writing, then many great new things happen. Think about your favorite novels and poems, for example. Think about what you would consider to be the greatest films of all time. Think about the songs whose lyrics have had the most impact on your life so far. These are all products of writing, and they were able to touch how you view the world around you and give it a little bit more depth, scope and passion.
Let your own writing do that to other people.
To express oneself
There are many moments in our lives when we find ourselves in the midst of intense joy or grief. And in such situations, to quote Ethan Hawke in his TED Talk interview about giving yourself permission to be creative, “…art is not a luxury, it’s sustenance.” We need to express ourselves every now and then, especially in notable events where without release other forms of freedom wouldn’t be enough.
Imagine yourself having suffered a great loss or tragedy. Imagine yourself going through a great tribulation and coming out victorious. Imagine yourself being extremely firm about something that you would stake even your own life just to prove your point to other people. How do you think would you be able to eloquently and completely communicate your message and emotions not just to others but also to your future self?
The freedom writing bestows upon us expressing the things we would rather not contain within also gives us an opportunity to be creative. How are you going to express things through words? Do you have some fairly compelling metaphors in mind? Do you prefer pure logic and unadulterated communication of points? Do you use references to culture and art, punctilious for every counter-argument, etc. When writing, it is your voice and your choice.
To keep the past accessible
Anais Nin once said, “We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” It’s true. We don’t walk through life as mere actors of the present, but also listeners of the past after having been seen from the future. And there is no greater way to live such multiple lives than through writing.
When we write, we leave fragments of our past selves alive. This allows such past selves to communicate to the future, and in turn for our future selves to have something to look back on.
And it’s not just on a personal level. By preserving the past this way, you also immortalize yourself for other people to see. When Bruce Rosenstein discussed his book “Create Your Future the Peter Drucker Way” in the Library of Congress, he mentioned how possessing job titles aren’t as meaningful as being able to point to the myriad of works one has left behind.
It’s not necessarily as egoistic as how George Orwell put it when he talked about how one of the reasons why we write is due to a “desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, to get your own back on the grown-ups who snubbed you in childhood, etc., etc.” Rather, this preservation of the past can be seen as a celebration of humanity, and how it’s never-ending spiral through evolution has been possible through the immortalization of countless individuals becoming an instrument for the future to continue living on.
To improve oneself
The purpose of memory is, according to Jordan Peterson, “to extract out from the past lessons to structure the future.” And since writing allows us to revisit the past a lot more effectively, we gift ourselves these opportunities to structure the future in ways which would be conducive for the ideals which keep us moving forward.
One of these ideals is the development of critical thinking. Peterson said “the best way to teach people critical thinking is to teach them [how] to write.” After all, he said, writing is formalized thinking. By being able to structure arguments coherently, communicate points clearly and effectively through written media, one renders himself/herself more and more capable of producing the same output through sheer mental effort alone.
And why is this important? Well, we now live in an age of unprecedented accessibility to information. And if we are not critical enough to not only discern which information is worth considering but also organize the myriad of data in our heads, we risk of falling apart not only as individuals but also as members of society, simply through the tyrannical domination of other people.
And so, we improve ourselves. We write more. We explore more. We think more. We let the world see more of our refined selves and let ourselves refine these parts of us even further.
Writing as a way of answering important questions is a good example of this. In his book “Managing Oneself”, Peter Drucker identified several questions which one needs to answer in order to become a more effective leader and individual. Questions such as “What are your strengths”, “What are your values”, and “How do you perform” give us a more firm grasp of what we should improve upon and how. And how should we answer such crucial questions for self-improvement? We write.
To influence the world
By improving yourself through writing, you also offer the world something of value. Not everyone has the same opportunities as people who can write effectively. Being able to communicate oneself renders him/her a lot more power over other people via the virtue of influence. And if we improve our capacity to write, we also improve our chances of being able to change this world for the better.
How do you think the world is right now? What do you think should change in the system? How do you think people should go about these changes? Why should people adhere to the changes you would like to propose? If you could answer these questions quickly, then what should you do in order to actualize these things that you believe to be true? That is right – you should start to write.
Write about the current state of the country. Write about the things which you deem to be contributing to the problem. Lay out your proposals for a better future. You may not have the position of power and authority as other people have right now, but if you can eloquently convince these people and the masses to act in ways which you firmly believe in, then you don’t need to be the president or the governor or the mayor or the leader of your own community. You have your own words and the capacity to write, and that would be enough.
There are plenty of reasons why you should write. But among these reasons, one should especially use their capacity to write for the sake of the good in this world. And it’s not enough to just write constantly either. One should not only make writing a habit, but also improve one’s own writing capabilities. Above all else, have confidence in yourself. As Sylvia Plath said, “…everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”
Why do you write? I would love to read your reasons in the comments below.
To learn more about critical thinking, I highly recommend reading Beyond Feelings by Vincent Ruggiero:
See Managing Oneself by Peter Drucker here:
To improve your writing, I definitely recommend starting with The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White: