Writing was not my friend for the longest time. I grew up dreading writing assignments in school. It felt like a chore. Writing assignments in schools was quite an underwhelming under-creative activity.
Do you remember the essay prompts and the minimum word limit? Writing essays in school felt like running in place to cover 2 miles in one hour. The minimum word limit made writing an activity on a leash.
Writing is art. It is like freestyle swimming. It is dancing to your favorite tunes. Our schools introduced writing as a science with a formula. We were graded based on the structure and not on our perspectives and the ideas we brought to the table. There was very little difference between writing and physics. Both made me nervous and anxious at the same time.
When I began writing articles with Unlearning Labs, I felt like a baby learning to walk for the first time. I had trouble putting my thoughts down on paper and letting words do their magic. It was a new process but not a new skill. It felt like a new skill because my writing did not have prompts or minimum words. It had no method and all madness.
Why is writing so valuable?
I have been introspective about the value of writing since I started Unlearning Labs. Writing has a high upfront investment and it takes immense energy but it has high dividends in the long run. Writing has helped me in three ways:
Writing makes you patient. It soothes the thinking mind to wait until the writer puts their thoughts on paper. The process brings clarity of thought and connects the writing to the writer.
Writing teaches you to pause. It is advised that you write and edit on different days. Between those days, you allow your mind to wander and return to the page with a fresh perspective. Writing helps you learn how to pause naturally and let the creative mind recover for the next sprint.
Writing helps you live in the moment, as difficult as it might be. It is not easy to write and yet it is the most rewarding activity that brings joy every time.
When I began writing, I realized three myths that need to be busted:
- Some people are naturally good at writing: Writers become better by practice just like any other skill. Those who write well also spend hours staring at the paper, editing ninety percent of the content, and publishing work they are not proud of.
- Some people are just bad at writing: Before Unlearning Labs, I thought of myself as a business professional who liked slides (yes, I do) and had no time or inclination to write. Writing made me better at my role and I only realized that after writing consistently. No one is bad at writing, just that they have not put in the reps.
- Not all professions need writing skills: Writing skills are equivalent to speaking in public or sharing your ideas in a meeting. If you collaborate in your role, your writing skills can be a great differentiator.
When I began writing, three tips helped me get to my first piece of content:
1. Make the first piece personal
Start writing with something about you, your life, or your goals. The first piece is emotionally charged. Your writing topics might change later but begin with an easy personal note to help you get used to the writing process.
2. Don’t worry about grammar
Editing comes later. Write first, take a break, and edit. Grammar can be fixed at a later point. Let the thoughts in your head become the words on paper without disruption.
3. Make it public
Announce your writing journey in public to help with accountability. I announce my newsletter weekly to reduce any chance of procrastination or other priorities taking over the day.
Schools made writing a chore. It is time to write about something you like, consistently for yourself first and your audience.
Write to declutter your thoughts and declutter your thoughts to write. Both work in favor of the writer.
Writers note: This article is inspired by Anne-Laure Le Cunff. In her recent newsletter, she wrote about Human Writing. Her article inspired me to introspect and share my writing journey.