When I decided to start writing I asked myself: why is writing a good idea and why is it worth my time? I have a full-time job at a biotech company and a 7 month-old baby. Given my busy schedule, finding time to work out, connect with my partner or even catch up on laundry or sleep is an achievement by itself. Why would I start yet another time-consuming task? Well, it all begins with the value I give to journaling. Journaling has been a great tool for me over the years. I write in my journal to interrogate myself, to become self-critical and an observer of my own thought process. After I write, I end up with a better understanding of my feelings and actions.
Writing as a means to refine our thoughts
Anytime we (and by we I mean anyone) write about anything, our poorly-formed thoughts transform into more solid and well-defined ideas. These ideas could later become something bigger, like a professional project or a core long-term belief. Of course, not all of our thoughts lead to good ideas. However, the process of writing helps us sort through the maze in our minds, allowing us to keep and further develop those thoughts leading to the good stuff. At the same time, we are given the chance to re-evaluate and discard the thoughts that are not quite so good. Thanks to this weeding out process, we release space in our minds to generate new thoughts. We also enter into a highly creative state where we come up with more original and good ideas at a faster pace than we would if we did not write anything. Whether you want to start a new company, change careers or better yourself as parent or spouse, writing is a great tool because it can help you to clarify your thoughts regardless of the content.
I trust the process of writing, and I also have a lot of clearing up to do. I am a young professional with many thoughts and questions regarding the impact of my work and whether it has the right meaning for myself. I am also a new mother and I have doubts and concerns regarding the education that I will provide to my child. Thus, I figured that at least I should get some clarity about the importance of writing in my life. This is how this post came about.
We benefit from exposing our ideas
Unlike journaling, writing a blog post is done with the purpose of having an audience larger than ourselves. If we want our ideas to come across to our readers, they have to be conveyed with more clarity than we would for our internal monologue. Thoughts need to be translated from our abstract perspective of the world, which is often based on feelings and impressions derived from our very specific environment and personal experiences. The concepts that we lay on paper (or on the screen) will be later interpreted by someone with their own personal framework. As a result, when we write for an audience there is a risk that our ideas might be distorted, even lost, during this transfer of information. Thus, having an audience means that we must polish our thoughts and have greater clarity in our ideas beforehand, or as we write them. Definitely, they should be clearer by the time we finish!
But, why should we care about being properly understood? If we do manage to convey our ideas clearly and we are able to hear back from our audience the gain is huge. Our thoughts can be challenged, our perspectives can be validated, our ideas can be spread and we might receive new information that we could have been lacking. Through this feedback our ideas have the potential to expand and grow in an unlimited manner. Even in the case that we don’t receive any comments or feedback, knowing that our ideas are exposed and being judged makes us more likely to hold ourselves to a higher standard. You might not be striving to become a better version of yourself, and that is OK. Writing can still provide you with something valuable.
We all want and deserve to express ourselves
We all have a need to be recognized and be heard. We also want our ideas to be acknowledged. Proof of this fact is the number of people using social media daily to tell their story and share their perspective. The need to express ourselves is so innate to humans that it goes back to the cave paintings. It also manifests in how prevalent all forms of self-expression are among artists and non-artists. Think of any mundane activity and you will find that people have found a way to express themselves through it (I am picturing someone singing their very own version of their favorite song in the shower, or baking a cake with a complicated shape and an intricate icing pattern). I personally enjoy all forms of art and self-expression. However, I believe that writing has a unique place because it has the potential to convey deep and complex thoughts and feelings in a very precise manner. It can also be imprecise and still have a lot of meaning, as is the case of poetry. Writing is also one of the cheapest and most accessible forms of self expression. We are fortunate to live in a part of the world where we are taught how to write early in our lives, so we grow up carrying the basic skills to do it. Since you are able to read this post, I am sure you are also able to write a thing or two. We all can afford a pen and a small notebook (you can even use a napkin!). The only true limitation that is stopping us from writing is our belief that we don’t have something to say or that we have to be professional writers. I believe neither of these two statements is true.
We all have something unique to say
While our unique set of personal experiences, environment and genetic makeup can pose a challenge to communicate ourselves clearly, it is precisely this aspect that makes us suitable to write. Each and every one of us has a unique story to tell. No two people have the same trajectory nor do they share the same perspective on every aspect of life. Two people’s journey can be very close but never identical. Someone could argue that being unique is not enough to be interesting. I agree. Although we are all unique, not everyone is interesting at first glance. There were times in my life where I did not want to share my perspective or experience thinking that it was not appealing enough. Over time I realized that the ideas shared by other people were not always objectively more engaging than mine. These ideas were more interesting because the person sharing them thought they were worth being shared. In other words, what we have to say is only as fascinating as we think it is. If we think it has value, we will be able to convey that value to other people. If you struggle with similar ideas, you might be wondering: what can I do to find my story more compelling? The answer to this question has to do with our sense of self-worth, a topic that unfortunately I will have to leave for another post.
It is possible that you already find your story or perspective on something interesting enough to be shared. In fact, you might be sharing it already in other ways. So, why don’t you write about it? Often, we fear that writing precisely and eloquently is necessary, and while that could lead to a whole different level on communication and self-expression, I do not think everyone should become a professional writer. Let me be clear. I mean that everybody should write because anyone could benefit from it. You don’t have to quit your job or take English lessons and write it perfectly to benefit from it. You just have to put your thoughts down, mull over your ideas, refine and evolve them. Whether it is for house-keeping, to generate better and brighter ideas, to become better people or even just to express yourself, give writing a chance. At least for now I will, and I hope you will accompany me while I gain clarity about some deep yet common aspects of life.
Sara Tafoya is a young professional and mother. A biophysicist by training, a ceramist by heart, an aspiring author and a chocolate enthusiast. She spends her time thinking about biotechnology and art, singing lullabies and making sense of her life experiences.