Did you dread writing essays in school? Maybe you waited until the last minute to write research papers in college even though you understood the topic well. Nowadays, maybe you get up from your comfy office chair and walk up three flights of stairs to talk to a co-worker. It's so much easier than trying to put your thoughts succinctly in an email.
If any of these situations sound like you, you may hate writing. Or maybe you don’t hate it so much as feel you’re just no good at putting your thoughts into written form. And so you avoid it like certain politicians dodge the truth.
But in today’s digital world where electronics connect everyone, you have few choices for communicating with others. You can create videos, but that’s not efficient and effective for real-time communication with your coworkers. You could do your own podcast, but again, the stumbling block is how to incorporate podcasts into a conversation. More often than not, you write emails, documents, text messages, or online chat messages.
So whether you want to admit it or not, you’re a writer. And, as a writer, you'll improve with repetition. Here’s why you should consciously write every day, even if you hate writing.
1. Writing Helps You Clarify Your Thoughts
You have an opinion about everything, though you may not understand exactly what it is. For instance, I challenge you to sit down and write for 30 minutes nonstop about a social or political issue on which you’re not sure where you stand. Just write whatever comes to mind and keep going for 30 minutes. What comes out will surprise you. And you’ll have a much clearer picture of how you really feel.
2. Writing Helps You Discover What’s Bothering You
We all have stressors in our lives. They may not be front and center like that annoying co-worker who interrupts you several times a day to see what you’re doing. In fact, what bothers you may be so subconscious you’re not even aware it’s stressing you out. Writing lets you unload everything onto the page or the screen and get it out in the open. Because you can’t fix something until you acknowledge it’s broken.
3. Writing Forces Your Brain to Create New Ideas
When you’re staring at an empty page in a notebook or on your laptop, you jumpstart your brain and force it to be creative. If you know you have to fill up that empty page before you can walk away, it might surprise you how quickly your brain comes up with new ideas. The more you train your brain to come up with creative ideas and to problem-solve, the better your professional life. Creative problem-solving is a must-have in any job, regardless if you’re a programmer, a school teacher, an engineer, or an actuary.
4. Writing Helps You Remember More
It’s impossible to keep every thought easily accessible over time. Sometimes I can’t remember what I went in the kitchen for. It’s even harder to remember what I told a client or coworker I would get done next week. Writing helps you remember your thoughts better. It also frees up your mind to think about other things instead of worrying you’ll forget something important. It’s true—you’ll forget it if you don’t write it down.
5. It Gets Easier the More You Do It
And let’s face it: You need to write to communicate nowadays. Writing clearly and succinctly is good for any business and any professional. In fact, learning how to write persuasively is a highly valuable skill in many situations. If you want to convince others to accept your ideas or to change their way of thinking, write persuasively without putting someone on the defensive.
Ways to Write Daily
You need not write a lot, but you need to write each day. A habit is something you repeat daily until it’s ingrained. If you don’t do it daily, writing becomes something that’s easy to skip and then to forget. For example, if you want to be a runner, you can’t run for an hour once a week and call it done. You must work at it every day so it becomes natural and easy.
Many people believe writing for 20 to 30 minutes as soon as you get up is the best way to prime your brain for the day’s work. You’re fresh from sleep and at your most creative. When you write first thing in the morning, you’ll feel productive even before you start work.
Others feel that priming your brain before sleep helps you better solve problems. If you’re concerned about an issue, write several questions at bedtime you’d like your brain to focus on. When you wake in the morning, your brain will have made connections and found potential solutions.
Truthfully, the best time to write is the one you’ll stick to. If you’re an early riser, take advantage of that time to put in a few minutes of writing each day. And if you’re a night owl, consider writing right before bed to see what comes out. If you’re neither, take a few minutes at lunch to jot down your thoughts. Whatever works best for you will reap the biggest benefits.
You may find out you like writing—well, almost.