I have always been inspired by authors. This profession has something magical about it. Whenever I hear stories of writers sitting down deeply and deliberately for a few hours, writing down their thoughts and transferring their knowledge onto paper and thereby producing something valuable, I just cannot help myself but get inspired, and it makes me want to start writing as well.

The problem is, that I never considered myself a writer and thought that I would never be able to write anything good. Therefore, I never even attempted to write. And while this may be true for now, I am sure, that writing is a valuable skill that can be acquired like any other skill over time. In this essay, I want to go over the very reasons why one might want to get started with writing and how I plan on starting my writing habit.

Satisfy the urge for creation

The main reason why I want to start writing is to satisfy my urge to create. I do not know yet why exactly I have this urge, but it might be to transform my thoughts and ideas into something valuable for others.

Whenever I get stuck in “Tutorial Hell” and watch one programming tutorial after another or read several books in a row without applying my new knowledge, then I don’t feel, like I am making good use of the knowledge. Knowledge in my head without it affecting the outside world is wasted knowledge. So whenever I produce something new by applying everything that I have learned so far, then this desire to produce something gets satisfied.

This transition from being a consumer, who is only consuming information or services from others, to a producer, who creates something new and valuable, is very important. I think that it was in one episode from “The art of manliness” on how to lead a happy life, the host mentioned, that some cultures define their adults by the ability to produce something valuable. This means that the children in these cultures are seen as consumers and when they grow up and enter the work-life then they start to produce something for their society.

The process of creation is often described as a deeply fulfilling activity. And unfortunately, many people don’t get to feel this satisfaction these days, because there is often no need to produce something ourselves. And yet this urge is rooted deeply within us because historically we would only be accepted by our society if we were contributing something valuable to the community. Creation was also tightly coupled to material products. A blacksmith forging swords, an architect desinging buildings, and a shoemaker cobbling shoes. But in our digital and office-driven world, we don’t get to satisfy this urge. The good news is, that we can digitally produce goods. A programmer can be proud of his software and the entrepreneur about a company he built.

But we are not restricted to our professions to create something. Everybody can get the satisfaction of having something created through writing. Having “produced” an essay, article, or maybe even a book is deeply satisfying because there is a final product that you created.

That is why I view writing as one of the deepest forms of creation because you can make so much with it. You can teach someone else about a topic in which you have the expertise and thereby help them. Or you can get your ideas organized and thereby formulate informed opinions about topics that you care about, and you can even change the world if you write down some great ideas in a book.

Learning by writing

The aforementioned teaching by writing is not just some generous act, you can also benefit from teaching others. For this article alone, I had to read quite a lot of material and learn about the various reasons why people write. I had to take some time and organize everything that I know and add my own twist to this information. In the end, I learned a lot and if I can help someone with this article, then this is a win-win situation because we both learned something new.

By writing about topics that interest me and by doing proper research I have to engage more deeply with the topic and thereby I can strengthen my knowledge. So no matter how much you think that you know about a specific topic, just try to write an article or a book about it, and then you can see, what you already understood quite well and what you have to dive deeper into.

When all you do is read and consume information, try to write down everything that you have learned. This will show you, how much you understood and which points you might want to revisit, to properly understand them.

We acknowledge in other areas that simply consuming information is not sufficient to master something. Just reading about how to drive a car won’t teach me how to do it. I have to sit in a car and try to drive it to learn it. The same goes for swimming, chess playing, programming, and pretty much every other skill.

I don’t know why writing is not viewed in the same way. It feels like many people view writing as a necessary act to transport information. But as I have been explaining, it is far more than that. Sitting down and writing about a topic that interests you will spark new ideas and sort out any misunderstandings inside your head. You will have to

But just writing down key points is not enough for a complex topic. Having information available is not the same as having it in your head and having a true understanding of the matter. There is a difference between just knowing something and understanding it. Being able to reference some facts is not the same as understanding them from the ground up.

Writing down some main dates and events of WW2 is not the same as writing an essay about the Nazi system and possible solutions on how to stop something like that from happening again.

So writing a long-form essay will force you to engage deeply with the material and this will inevitably transform information into knowledge in your head.

Clear and concise thoughts through writing and reflection

We often have a strong opinion on something, without having it thought through. This is regularly the case with opinions that we adopt from others. We hear or read something and then instantly believe it, without questioning it. This can lead to misinformed opinions.

Misinformed opinions can be tackled through:

  • Researching → Writing → Reflecting → Discussing → Repeating

I have noticed, that I barely give myself enough time to think through complex matters. I read something, adopt it and try to use it in an argument. It should be obvious, that this is not good.

One’s opinions should be informed and thoughtful. By formulating and organizing our thoughts and ideas through writing, we can form a reflected opinion. Writing them down allows you to spot missing points and flaws in your argument. This happens because it is far easier to spot flaws in logic in a text than during a conversation, which means that you can detect your shortcomings in a text and correct them.

There is no difference between writing and thinking. The written word is a manifestation of thought, which means that practicing writing is the same as practicing your thinking. I noticed this for myself several times. I often have dozens of ideas floating around in my head creating chaos, but writing them down gives them structure and a place to live on the page, where I can see them clearly and juggle them around until they make sense.

Through writing, you can practice your thinking and wording, and the person that can formulate and communicate the stronger arguments will most often win an argument. While winning shouldn’t be the goal, but rather staying open to every conclusion and getting closer to the real answer with your argument partner, it actually can be beneficial to win arguments sometimes. But you and your argument partner will benefit greatly if both of you have clear and coherent arguments.

Good for your career and daily life

Build up a personal portfolio

We are transitioning into a skill-based society from a credential-based society. In the past, it was important to have great grades to show that you are a capable person, but it seems like we are starting to acknowledge that grades are not a perfect way to estimate someone’s capabilities.

Having great grades shows that you are capable of sitting down and grinding for your goals, which is a necessary skill. But we don’t know how and on what the student was tested, which makes it nearly impossible to compare grades between institutions. And there are many more problems with our current school system which I will address in another essay.

But for now, it is important, that we need other metrics besides grades to show what we are capable of and writing skills are a very good metric. By building a portfolio consisting of articles, essays, and stories you showcase your ability to think, how you tackle difficult topics and whether you can express your thoughts or not.

You give the reader a glimpse inside your head through writing. What better way is there to see how capable a person is? Well, except maybe for actually having built something. If I want to hire a software engineer and he has a proven track record of having built some impressive projects then I would prefer that over his writing skills. But more often than not writing skills are a good estimator of someones thinking capabilities.

Writing is better than a diary

I love the idea of diaries. Writing your thoughts down to reflect on them in the future is great, but I always had the problem of not knowing what to journal about. This always made it feel artificial and that is why I never got into it.

That is why I love writing for tracking my progress. I have been writing for over a year now (without publishing anything), and it is always a lot of fun to read something that I wrote in the past. This is great because I can clearly see how my thinking has transformed during this time and what beliefs I had back then. And because I only write about stuff that truly interests me I can see what topics were relevant at that time of my life.

Writing is everywhere

Many careers expect you to know how to write well. Whether it is writing a job application, a response email to a business partner or just writing any other document is often a standard task in most jobs. If you do not know how to write, then even a short email can stress you out, and messing up an important email might affect whether you get or even keep your job.

Writing skills show competence. Whenever I read a text full of errors and flaws I automatically dismiss the ideas inside more easily. The same goes for E-Mails. If I get a poorly written E-Mail I cannot take the sender seriously.

The best thing about writing

Last but not least the best thing about writing is: It feels damn good. Mastering a skill feels great and writing is no different. It is an art in which you can improve, produce something valuable, and have an impact on the world.

I love skills like chess which are about improving the skill itself, but the best ones are those in which you also produce something. A final product of which you can say:

I made this. This is my work and I am proud of it.

And that is exactly how I feel after finishing an essay.

Please don’t mistake this for thinking that writing itself is fun. To be honest, the process itself is often no fun and can be frustrating, when the words coming out are not of the quality you which they were and you somehow cannot improve them. But the best things in life are like that. We have to drag ourselves through difficulties to reap the benefits. This is true for sports and hard work, where it might not feel good in the short-term, but freakingly great in the long term. Knowing that you created something which you are proud of while having learned something yourself, improved at a skill, practiced your thinking, and maybe even had an impact on the world through your writing. What better feeling could there be than this?