June 15, 2019

The importance of writing

If you can’t write well, you’re not that smart. That’s a bold statement, but it’s true.

If you can’t write clearly, you’re not thinking clearly. And not thinking clearly is the definition of dumb.

Writing is a skillset, art, and discipline all tied up into one, that’s why it’s hard. The more you practice, the better you get at it (skillset). There’s no right way to do it (art). And it takes a serious dedication to keep at it (discipline).

Yet the payoff is huge.

The smartest people almost always write. Elite humans from throughout history wrote consistently. This is as true today as ever. I’ve noticed from listening to podcasts that there’s a huge difference between guests who write and guests who don’t. It’s obvious who has put in serious time writing.

People who write regularly have clear thinking. Their ideas are developed. They are far better at articulating ideas. They use less fillers and fluff and they get to the meat of the matter with their statements.

All of those skills are rooted in writing.

Developing your thinking

I remember Seth Godin mention that his blog was the most important thing to him. It forced him to develop his thinking. He encourages everyone to get a blog and take it seriously. This was years ago, probably 2010. I was inspired and got started, yet failed to stick with it.

Developing your thinking takes energy & striving. It can be very uncomfortable and taxing to organize a mess. This is why hardly anyone will do it and why I quit.

When you have developed thinking, you are truly intelligent. Your mind gets organized. Writing forces the issue. When you sit down to write you realize how many gaps in thought you have. It takes true knowing to string together sentences that come together in a coherent manner.

Writing is a workout for your mind. Learning transforms into knowing when you’re forced to write. This is why I consider writing to be a super power that everyone should strive to develop. When you write regularly, you set yourself apart from the pack. You grow your power.

Learning what you don’t know

When you set out to write you immediately run into blocks. Your thinking isn’t as clear as you thought it was. At this moment you realize what you don’t know and haven’t thought through.

Part of being dumb is not knowing you’re dumb. The dumbest people on the planet think they’ve got it all figured out. People who write know they don’t. Coming to a place within yourself where you admit you don’t know is hugely important. Writing forces this to happen.

People who write freely admit “I don’t know” to questions they haven’t pondered. They recognize what clear thinking is and when it’s missing. When they don’t have clarity, it isn’t hard for them to admit it.

One of the biggest benefits of writing on a regular basis is realizing what you don’t know and haven’t thought through. There’s a freedom that comes from admitting that you don’t know what you don’t know.

Write to Yourself

When it comes to writing, a huge hangup is thinking you’re writing to others. Truth is, you’re writing to yourself. The best writers are organizing their own ideas for the sake of their own understanding. They aren’t writing to some unknown person. They are writing to themselves.

For whatever reason this is easy to forget. I believe this is the foundation of “writers block.” Ideas flow easily whenever I re-realize that I’m writing to myself. An internal pressure somehow gets relieved and the spigot of creativity starts to flow.

When I’m writing to myself, I know exactly what to say. And when I get stuck I present the dilemma within… the answer almost always comes and words naturally follow.

When you sit down to write, consciously realize that you’re writing to yourself. This is key.

What makes good writing?

Good writing is about simplicity. Good writing uses as little words as possible. Simple statements strung together that flow. No fat. No filler. No fluff.

There’s an art to choosing words, but that is secondary. Get really good at making simple statements first. After you’ve mastered this, you can start to improve word choice.

Elaborate grammar rules were invented for shitty writing. Your sentences should be short and simple. They should contain 1 idea only. Good writing is actually robotic. If it gets complex, you’re doing it wrong. If you need to lookup grammar rules, you’re doing it wrong.