Why Does Writing Matter?

Image shows a fountain pen writing on a lined pageAs a blogger, I write regularly. Every week I take the time to sit down and commit my thoughts to the realm of the digital. Some of these thoughts can bring value to the people who read them, or so I’d like to believe.

Some days, along with writing on a keyboard I write in a journal. I write about my days; the people I meet, the places I visit, the things I learn and how I ask for God’s help to navigate it all.

I’ve been writing regularly for a few years now. I’ve learned a few things about how to write and what writing does, not just for me but also for the people who read what I put down.

What I’ve learned is that writing is a universal and essential skill for success. Being able to write, and write well, is a skill which, when leveraged, can have tremendous effects in our lives, for good or ill.

This article is going to go into the details of why writing matters. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a high school student writing a term paper, an employee on the ground floor of a retail store or an executive in a Fortune 500 company; what and how you write can change the course of your grade, or career, for the better.

Areas In Life Where Writing Comes Into Play

What we need to get clear write off the bat (heh) is why we write. We write to communicate. But what is “to communicate”? Communication is the creation and exchange of meaning.

So what is “meaning”? I believe meaning is impossible to define, but…

Without meaning life would be meaningless. Without meaning, we can’t live. That’s how important meaning is to us. People who commit suicide often report life being meaningless to them. So, whatever meaning is, it’s essential for us to live – it’s the bedrock of our lives.

Communication is about exchanging meaning with others. The better we are at communicating, the more effective we are at sharing our meaning with others.

Every area of our life has meaning to us, to varying degrees. So our ability to communicate influences every area of our life. The more effective communicators we are, the better we can communicate the meanings of our lives to others.

And the more meaning we exchange with the people we meet, the more meaningful our relationships become. The more rooted we are in meaningful relationships, the greater the storms we can weather when they present themselves.

Communicating well gives people the chance to see us for who and what we are. They can then decide for themselves whether they want to get to know us more or not. Whatever the outcome, by communicating ourselves clearly, we engage with life fully – we put ourselves out there and let the chips fall where they may.

Writing is how we can train our communication abilities. Put another way, writing affords us the chance to engage in life more fully.

I’ll explain why.

Write To Engage In Life

In 2018 I began writing a manuscript about my life. My intention was to have it published, I believed at the time that I had lived through some experiences and learned lessons which could benefit a reader, if I put them down on paper.

I finished the manuscript, it took me a couple of years. I shared it with a few people. But it was never published.

Regardless of the fate of the manuscript, it was still a profoundly edifying experience to write it.

Writing the manuscript about my life got me to look through my memories and unite them with a continuous strand of meaning. Since I was telling the story of my life, it had to have cohesion and continuity. The reader had to be able to follow what was happening and how those happenings changed me.

It also had to be engaging – I had to look at my ordinary life and find out what made it extraordinary. Everyone can do this, by the way.

Identifying Themes In Life

Through the process of reminiscing, researching and writing, I took parts of my life experience and unified them in a cohesive whole. I made a story out of my life, populated with memorable characters from diverse places while communicating lessons which changed the way I lived my life.

Writing the book clarified my story for me by crystallizing meaning. This all happened without my realizing it. I simply wrote my story out and the meaning formed. It was a natural consequence of telling the story of my life.

As the meaning took shape, I began to identify themes in my life. Themes comprise recurrent events spaced out across time, rhyming and giving a beat to the events of my life. I identified some negative themes like unforgiveness, youthful immaturity and irresponsibility. I also recognized positive themes like camaraderie, persistence and a thirst for adventure.

Knowing the themes of my life then enabled me to identify what I needed to work on the most – by knowing the theme of a story you can identify a character’s narrative arc. You can begin to answer questions like “What is holding this character back?, “What mistakes does this character keep on making?” And “What tools does this character have at his disposal to change his circumstances?”.

I began to answer those questions and more. I learned there were things I needed to stop doing as well as start doing, If I wanted to live a good life.

Forgiveness was one of those things; forgiving people who had hurt me became more possible after I wrote the book. Another thing was holding myself accountable for my choices – every choice we make has a consequence, maturity is accepting that and moving forward, grounded in the lessons God gives us.

Nosce Te Ipsum – “Know Thyself”

We all have dreams, passions, likes, dislikes, traumas, self-destructive habits, embarrassing memories. Most serious of all, we are all sinners. Every one of us.

Taking the time to write my personal story gave me a chance to see the buffet of my life choices laid out before me. Everything we write is a window into our deepest and most cherished beliefs.

As we write our personal story, we are encouraged to impose structure and flow on what would otherwise be a mishmash of facts. We do this to convey meaning.

For example, some of the facts about my life are that I was born in Los Angeles to an American Father and a Mexican mother. I learned English and Spanish as a boy. I began playing video games at the age of two. I have a younger brother. I grew up in Mexico City. I wanted to be a scientist. I have loved and lost.

How meaningful is reading that? Not much. But if I were to make it all into a story, then you’d find the meaning. Then you’d get a taste of what it means to be Erick.

When we write to communicate a personal story, what is disjointed fact becomes cohesive meaning. By writing it all out, by communicating, we are forced to elaborate on our beliefs, to analyze them and see where they may be flawed or missing something.

By writing, we help ourselves fit it all together. We give ourselves the chance to make meaning out of seemingly random experiences, to find some solid ground amid the shifting sands of life. We become clearer on who we are.

As we do so, we prepare ourselves for the most basic and central of all relationships a human being can have. Our relationship with God.

God Made Us To Be In Relationship With Him

Human beings were made by God for relationships. A relationship is an exchange of information, matter or energy between two entities. According to the Bible that was the purpose of humanity’s creation in the first place, to be in relationship with God.

It’s self-evident that relationships are crucial to our lives. Without relationships, we can’t live. Everything that is living is in a relationship with the environment which supports it; with the living and non-living entities it depends on. Life depends upon life and all life depends upon God. He is the beginning and the end.

I am convinced that guided me to God. As I sifted through the events of my life to write them down, and as I wrote this blog, I progressively reached deeper and deeper until I hit bedrock. I could go no further. All meaning had to come from somewhere. That source of all meaning became clear to me, it was, is and always will be God.

There’s one more thing on writing I want to elaborate on.

Writing Teaches You How To Think

Every idea we ever have only matters until it’s outside of our head and out in the world. And how do we get ideas out of our head and into the world? By communicating them.

If you ever come up with a groundbreaking idea, it will be of no value until you communicate it. There’s no going around it. Communicating ideas in an honest, clear and engaging manner is essential for them to be adopted by others.

But even more important than that, in order for the idea to take shape in your mind you need to have an understanding of the facts and concepts which make up the idea. And facts and concepts are products of language (there’s rigorous academic debate about this).

The limitation on your imagination and your creative range is set by the language at your disposal. Thinking is built on language. The more accurate, diversified and flexible your language, the more meaning you can communicate. I’ll elaborate with an example.

Imagine An Apple Mosaic…

Imagine a mosaic made up of different shades of red showing the image of an apple. Each piece of colored stone is its own unique shade of red, and arranged together they show a ripe apple. Now imagine that you have photographic memory and you can remember what each square looks like and where it’s located. You’re then asked to describe the mosaic from memory. The more names you have for the shades of red the more accurate your description of the apple mosaic. There is the color “red” and there is carmine, scarlet, crimson, vermilion, ruby red, cranberry, strawberry, dark cherry red, and more.

Image shows a hand holding a red apple in the foreground and in the background are unfocused leaves.

The greater your language ability the more accurate and precise your description of the mosaic. The more meaning you will be able to convey.

So how do you train your language ability? This answer should be clear by now. You write.

Writing is not a chore. It’s an avenue of growth with no boundaries nor speed limits. It is a gift we give ourselves, an act of personal exploration and expansion. You can’t go wrong with writing.

Take Time To Write!

I hope this article has inspired you to take the time to write today. As someone who regularly writes, both for others and for myself, I have found the habit to be not only intellectually stimulating, but also emotionally rewarding. On top of that, this blog also provides me with a regular income, so it’s also financially rewarding.

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What you can do immediately is get to writing and see what comes up! Maybe there is something you want to talk about but have not been able to find the words to do so. Sitting down to write might give you the opportunity to communicate what has been going on, without having to reveal it to anyone else. Seeing things put down on paper and outside of our heads and hearts is supremely cathartic.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to have a relationship with God, read the Bible. Or meet a Christian and speak to him about Christ and Christianity. We love talking about Christ. Believing Christ and what he did at the cross is the only way to get to heaven.

Glory to God.

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