Why You Should Write, Even If You Don't Publish

May 12, 2020 · 3 min read

Person writing in a book on a wooden desk. Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

How often do you write? And do you even realize it every time? We write more often than we think. Task descriptions, chat messages, job applications, project proposals, .., maybe you write a diary.

Writing is a form of conscious thinking. It forces you to slow down and think about what you think.

There are many forms of writing:

  • free-flow writing (stream of consciousness)
  • summaries
  • structured texts (like blog posts)
  • fiction
  • .. and more!

I started writing more, for me and in public, around 4 months ago. I write blog posts, a newsletter, summarize articles, and do morning pages.

Morning pages are a form of free-flow writing. You commit to a specific time or number of pages you write in the morning. You can write about anything that comes to your mind. I found that morning pages help me explore what my brain works on, and that it gets my creative juices flowing for the rest of the day.

Why you should write more

  • You'll learn faster and remember more of what you learn. Writing helps you to structure your thoughts. You can even discover connections and ideas you would not otherwise find.
  • Writing helps you succeed in business. When you write more, you'll get better at all other writing tasks. You'll be writing clearer business emails and better job applications. And when you go down the entrepreneurial route: writing is how you (most likely) sell, either through better project proposals or through your informational content.
  • Writing improves your personal relationships. You'll also write better personal emails, clearer text messages and avoid misunderstandings. You may even write a personal letter to someone!
  • You'll get to know yourself better. When you do free-flow writing, you connect to your subconscious. You'll learn even more what you think about and how your brain works.
  • Your productivity in other tasks will increase. When you do free-flow writing, you'll empty your brain. Same feeling as if you write down everything you need to do, but including all other things in your brain. This helps you to stay more focused on the task at hand and reduces the times your thoughts drift to other things. When you do summaries or structured writing, you optimize how your brain makes connections and understands information.

How to start writing

  • Beginner: take 10-20 minutes and just write whatever comes to your mind. Don't stop. Use whatever system you want. Pen and paper, note-taking software, or a Google doc.
  • Advanced: start doing this daily. Write morning pages or evening questions. Also, start making summaries of the most interesting things you find online.
  • Pro: implement a system for your notes. Something like Building a Second Brain, and use a note-taking software (I recommend Roam Research!), or an offline Zettelkasten. Start managing the information you digest each day, so you can access it later and use it productively.

Evening questions are a set of free-flow and structured questions I answer every evening for myself. The first questions is free flow, to write evening pages similar to the morning pages explained above. Then I go to questions like "what made me happy today?", "what made me sad?", "what am I grateful for?", and some more questions to examine what I learned and if my day went according to my plans.

How to publish if you don't want to publish

When you share some of your writing, three things happen:

  • You'll go even deeper into things you think you understand, and research more on the topics you write about.
  • Your writing will improve even faster.
  • Some people will like what they read and look forward to more creations from you.

Here are some ideas about how you can share your creations, with little work or exposing your notes.

  • Tweet a distilled version of something you wrote
  • Tell a colleague about an idea from your writing
  • Talk to a friend about something personal you discovered in your free-flow writing

And if you're a developer, consider building a dev blog (like this one!). A dev blog is something great. You build it and write everything for yourself. It feels amazing to have something online for everyone to see. It's scary to share what you think, but awesome to build something lasting that you own.