David Caulfield

Why Write?

Writing = Thinking

If thinking is the art of linking ideas together, then writing is the canvas upon which thoughts are painted. Like any work of art, without a canvas the painting only exists inside the artist's head. Even then, you could debate if it exists at all. In the same way, to engage in deep thought without writing is not only difficult, but impossible. Few people practice deep thinking. You are likely not one of them. Instead of thinking deeply about a topic, you experience quick thoughts in rapid succession which you forget as soon as you are distracted.

A friend once told me he concluded that God is a ridiculous concept after thinking about it for a mere 15 minutes when he was 16 years old. Let's think about this statement for a minute. Imagine that you play the piano. Think of the vast works of piano music. Think of the accomplishments people have achieved in both making and playing the piano. Think of the mastery that is required for piano composition. Now imagine someone comes along and attempts to play the piano for the first time. After failing to play for 15 minutes, they conclude the piano is a bad instrument. That is what my friend did.

Writing requires you to think for much longer than 15 minutes. When you write your thoughts, you do not have the luxury of cowardly casting off difficult opinions as if they were nothing. It is easy to discount opinions you do not understand - this is called a strawman. When you have an unpalatable thought, you can ignore it. For example, think about what it is like to lose your house, become homeless and develop crippling depression. It is difficult to consider for more than a few seconds. When you write about a displeasing idea, you do not get the luxury of changing to more comfortable thoughts. Whether you like it or not, any important idea is uncomfortable to think about. Consider the last political cause you were passionate about. Are you competent enough to argue for the opposition's side? Do you fully understand why people would vote the other way? I doubt you could. I doubt it because it is a strenuous task which takes a lot of mental effort that even sophisticated minds struggle to accomplish.

When you write, you think deeply. And when you think deeply, you discover the great void that is the understanding of yourself and those around you.

Grow Up and Be Informed

Let's face it: you're ignorant. And I'm not pointing fingers - I'm right there with you! You don't really know what to think about most things. You don't know your politics; you have a dismal view of history and you don't even know what higher purpose you believe in. This is where I'm supposed to say, "But it's ok - everyone is the same!" Yes - everyone is the same. But no, it's not ok. It's not ok that you don't know what to think about your local politics. It's unjustifiable that you have no idea of the atrocities of history. And it's inexcusable you don't know what higher purpose you believe in. So, get to work and start to write and think - nobody else will do it for you!

To start, write down what you know on an interesting topic. Do you believe in God? Write down why. Who will you vote for in the next election? Write down why. When you write your thoughts, you identify gaps quickly in your knowledge and can work to fill in those gaps. As you fill the gaps, you become an informed, mature person, capable of attacking lies and defending the values you hold dear. Of course, the alternative is to stay an adult infant. It is a blissful hell many people prefer.

Improve Your Communication

Think of a bad communicator you know. Maybe this is a work colleague or family member. What makes them a bad communicator? They do not speak well. They have poorly constructed sentences. They trip over their words. They are unsure of themselves. They are easily persuaded by an objection. They leave out crucial information. This person has certainly never written down their thoughts. This is because a single thought does not constitute an idea. We cannot think more than a single thought in a given moment. So, when you speak about your thoughts without preparation, you quickly realise it is impossible to get past one or two sentences. When you write, you write as many thoughts as necessary. Once your thoughts are written down, you can join them together in a larger, coherent idea. This enables you to weed out bad ideas. It also helps to highlight interesting or useful ideas. In this way, you develop strong ideas and arguments to defend them.

Let's return to the bad communicator. If they wrote about their ideas and opinions, they would be able to speak more coherently. They would not ramble in tangents. They would be confident. They would be able to defend their ideas against mere objections. Most importantly, they would be able to convince others that their idea is a good one. Effective communication awaits the novice writer.

Increase Your Success

If you can communicate good ideas effectively, people will listen to you and provide you opportunities. The quickest route to any kind of success is convincing people your idea is a good one. If you can write, think, and argue, you are unstoppable. Think about your career for a moment. Your dream job will require an interview process. An interview requires you to make an effective case for your skills. What happens if you do not think deeply about yourself prior to an interview? You ramble about things you don't understand. You don't form coherent arguments to show off your skills. You get distracted by the sound of your own voice. The best way to do well in an interview is to control the topics. You can only control topics if you have formulated and thought them out prior to the interview. The only way to formulate them effective is to write them down.

What if you want to ask for a raise? This requires you to make the case how a raise will benefit both you and the employer. The better your case, the larger a raise you will achieve. In recruitment, a quick way to secure employees who are good at their job is to bump those that write to the top of the hiring list. This isn't to say that the best person for the job is always a writer. I mean that the candidates who write have desirable traits of knowledge, critical thinking, and discipline. These are always ideal characteristics in a job applicant and the recruiter will recognise such. As you can see, the writer has a much better chance to defend and promote him or herself in opportunistic scenarios.

Be Disciplined Instead of Weak

I hated writing in school - it was difficult and, worst of all, I believed it was pointless. I continued to think this into my adult life. As an university student, I even opted into modules simply because I wouldn't have to write an essay. It is an attitude I regret, but one that was instilled in my school years when I was taught to hate writing.

I'm going to guess that you had a similar experience. Writing is mentally draining, onerous, and time consuming. Why then do writers do what they do? There must be something of value to be achieved. Apart from the pleasure of deep thought, writing requires you to carve out time. It requires you to organise your thoughts and ideas. It requires you to communicate each thought in words, phrases, and paragraphs. It requires you to commit to doing a task which you dislike and to fend off pleasures such as Netflix or YouTube. Even hanging up the clothes is preferable to writing! When you write, you encourage discipline. It should go without saying what any of us could accomplish with a little more discipline.

Perfect Your Ideas.

There are two ways your writing can subject your ideas to criticism. Firstly, you are your best critic. A good writer will look for gaps in their ideas. Secondly, if you publish a blog or newspaper article, your ideas are subjected to your viewers' scrutiny. The reactions of your viewers will help you to harmonize and perfect your ideas.

You may ask why you should subject yourself to criticism? You can enrich other people's lives by passing on your wisdom about a passionate topic. One of life's many pleasures is the passing on of information to those hungry to learn it. Furthermore, a unique idea grants you respect and authority over that idea.

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