I’ll start off by stating the obvious: I’m a writer and I’m a reader, and thus I’m biased when it comes to this topic. The other thing that I must note is when I use the word writer, I’m adhering to my own, personal definition of the word found below:
Writer: Anyone who wants to write or likes to write. Level of experience not relevant.
When I first started this piece, it was a list of three books I think every writer should read. But before I got to the books, I wrote what follows. Writing is a fickle mistress. She’s clever and surprising, and sometimes you end up far from where you thought you would.
Coming to web browser near you (hopefully, your web browser), Three Books To Up Your Writing Game. But before that would you humor me, please? Allow me the honor of expressing why I think everyone should be concerned with writing:
Writing Is Useful
Write poorly, and you’ll certainly end up in the kind of debacle that can only come of miscommunication. Write well, and doors are opened.
You might be thinking, “Sure, Chloe. Of course you think that. You’re clearly a freelancer, and you need to write to eat.” But, even to those who don’t rely on writing to such an extent, they do still absolutely need it.
This will look different for different people.
We’re the generation of startups and small businesses, right? In their overview of the modern landscape of entrepreneurs, Arizona State University notes a whopping 10 percent of the workforce is self-employed. Which means some you reading this are likely your own bosses.
Josh Steimle told Forbes about writing and entrepreneurship, “Can you be a terrible writer and still be successful as an entrepreneur? Sure. You can also be short and play in the NBA, but it helps to be tall, and you will be a better entrepreneur than you would otherwise be if you can write well.”
This isn’t about entrepreneurship, of course, but entrepreneurship is a prime example because it relates to so many topics. Whatever you do, you’ll likely do a better job of it if you’re writing well within the confines of whatever it is, too.
Additionally, one of the primary traits of a solid leader is the charisma that allows you to motivate and inspire others, and storytelling is a huge component of that. Writing well, whether you’re petitioning for a political cause or trying to reach your fledgling business’ target audience, can make all the difference in whether or not your message resonates.
Writing Is Helpful
Writing is a useful vehicle for maintaining your overall health. It makes sense, given that we use writing to flesh out emotions and think critically. It can be invaluable, granting clarity when attempting to think more clearly and process emotions more soundly.
Intellectual Health: There is a clear link between maintaining brain health and writing. While creativity is a difficult thing to study, what researchers have found is that writing can activate the same parts of the brain as other complex activities, much like music does. Plus, they found that the brains of expert writers worked in ways that the brains of a novice writer doesn’t. In other words, as with other things that require practice: The more you do it, the more your brain actually uses more refined means of accomplishing it.
Mental Health: The American Psychiatric Association notes writing is a valuable tactic “to help maintain and improve overall wellness and to help address specific mental health challenges.” Journaling can provide insight into one’s symptoms and an overarching picture of how one is fairing.
Plus, it is a useful measure of progress. When you write things down, you get to keep them. So down the road, you’re able to recognize patterns, habits, and progress made.
Writing Is Beautiful
Beyond the ways that writing can be used to further our goals or promote our health, writing is beautiful. Stephen King says it’s the artform that comes the closest to true telepathy. More than anything else, in my humble opinion, it allows us to see ourselves in others. We bare our hearts on our sleeves, and we are often fortunate enough to experience at least a flicker of recognition, or familiarity when we see others’ writing.
Because I am being completely self-indulgent, I’m including my favorite piece of dialogue from the movie Lady Bird:
Sister Sarah Joan: You clearly love Sacramento.
Christine ‘Lady Bird’ McPherson: I do?
Sister Sarah Joan: You write about Sacramento so affectionately and with such care.
Christine ‘Lady Bird’ McPherson: I was just describing it.
Sister Sarah Joan: Well it comes across as love.
Christine ‘Lady Bird’ McPherson: Sure, I guess I pay attention.
Sister Sarah Joan: Don’t you think maybe they are the same thing? Love and attention?
Perhaps you can write without paying attention, but I don’t think you can write well without paying attention, and paying attention is a non-negotiable part of enjoying life.
If you’ve made it this far in my thinly veiled love letter to writing, then mad props to you, my friend. Hopefully, if you were leaning towards the idea that writing is frivolous and that you have no room on your to-do list for it, you’re now leaning towards the idea that writing is worthwhile and meaningful.
Maybe you’re even thinking about a piece of writing that altered your life. A novel maybe? Perhaps a rediscovered letter your grandfather wrote to your grandmother during WWII? Are you thinking about it now? How it made you feel and think and dream?