My earliest memory of writing was a report I did on the Berlin Wall. It required many trips to the library, hours of research and pages of notes. Once the prep work was done, I got down to the business of writing the paper. After hours of pain, I finished the assignment.
Looking back, I can see why I didn’t write more. School sucked all the fun out of it. The writing I did back then wasn’t about sharing my thoughts, but rather summarizing facts.
There were moments when I got a glimpse of the power of writing. For example, when I fought to save trees in my hometown. I was passionate about the cause and my writing had to influence community leaders to see my point of view.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough positive experiences with writing as a child. It was almost always about painstaking school work. As a result, I avoided writing for years, only doing it when it was necessary.
This was a big mistake.
Until recently, I had no idea how bad I was at writing. Thanks to a few classes I took, I can see how much I have to learn.
When I didn’t know the difference between good writing and bad, I didn’t put much stock in getting better. Now that I’ve learned a thing or two, I can see how writing will make me more effective in life.
Like everything else, the only way to get better is to practice. The only question is what to write about. I tried a number of topics, but nothing stuck until I had the idea for these letters. My passion to share these lessons keeps me going and is helping me become a better writer in the process.
This experience has taught me a lot about the value of writing. Now I can see so many benefits to taking up this craft. I suspect there are many more, but these are the ones I’ve learned so far.
Writing helps fuel my imagination and creativity. All sorts of things come to me during this process. Everything from poems to life experiences I haven’t thought about in decades. Somehow, when I sit down my imagination lights up and turns a blank sheet of paper into a thousand word letter.
I’ve never been one to share much about myself. Writing changed this for me. To share life lessons I have to tell life stories. Part of this is explaining my point of view. This is a powerful form of self expression, that until recently, I haven’t experienced.
Powerful Persuasion & Communication
The importance of writing is only going to increase. Why? Because it isn’t about writing, it’s about communicating. In our flattened, digital world, communication is everything.
In sales I need to convince a prospect that I can solve their problem. In recruiting I need the other person to feel the passion and opportunity my company offers. As a CEO all I did was communicate – to employees, investors, customers, partners and the press. Regardless of the role, effective communication is key.
Writing is creating. I can create a blog post, a book or a movement with writing. Beyond the physical thing I create, I can also create emotion in people. Beyond that, I might create success or wealth by teaching a valuable lesson. Unlike physical products, I can create something and spread it across the world in an instant.
“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect” Anais Nin
I knew there were a lot of lessons I wanted to share. What I didn’t know, was how hard it would be to figure out what to say. Every new lesson I share forces me to reflect back on my life and what I’ve learned. This in itself is rewarding. It reminds me about what I’ve learned and helps me put those lessons back into practice.
Good writing requires great thinking. Before I sit down I need to think about the points I want to make, craft a storyline and make sure it is clear and concise. I may not always get it right, but the process takes a lot of critical thought and it helps build that expertise.
I may never know the impact of my words, but I hope they can help in some small way. My experiences may prevent someone from stumbling in life or speed up their path to success. The possibility alone helps keep me going.
Impact can come in many forms. For example, it may be about entertainment. I for one have great respect for those that write movies, songs, jokes, plays or musicals. The joy I get from experiencing their creations is tremendous. While this isn’t a talent of mine, I can appreciate the great work of others in these areas.
Words have the power to do so much in this world. They can make you laugh, cry, fall in love, learn, take action or reflect. The challenge is putting the words together in the right way.
I don’t know if I’ve gotten it right yet, but I am going to keep working at it. After all, I have about 20 years of lost practice to catch-up on.