This episode is a little bit different in that I'm not interviewing anybody. Instead, I'm going to give you some insights into why writing is so important, which will help you with your creative writing projects.
Experience shows that it's important to write. But why?
It's a question that I answer in this week's podcast episode and, I'm not going to give you just one reason, I'm giving you seven.
- Collins, Bryan (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 230 Pages - 02/08/2018 (Publication Date) - Independently published (Publisher)
Introduction: Welcome to the Become a Writer Today podcast, with Bryan Collins. Here, you'll find practical advice and interviews for all kinds of writers.
Experience shows that writing is important. But why? Hi there, my name is Bryan Collins, and welcome to Become a Writer Today podcast. The question, why is writing important? Is one that I want to answer in this week's podcast episode. And I'm going to give you seven reasons why writing is important for writers. This episode is a little bit different in that I'm not interviewing anybody, but I'm going to give you some insights which will help you with your creative writing projects, with your book or whatever you're working on. But before we get into this week's episode, if you could leave a short review on the iTunes store or wherever you are listening to the show, because more reviews and more ratings will help more people find the Become a Writer Today podcast.
Now, with that, here's reason number one why writing is so important.
You can inform or educate your readers. A couple of years ago, I took a story writing workshop by the storytelling guru, Robert McKee, and he's written several books on the topic, and he's advised top storytellers and companies like Pixar. And he gave a great talk over the two day workshop. But at the end of the workshop, I got a chance to meet Robert and I was a little bit nervous, but I brought up a copy of my book Story and I wanted to ask him a couple of questions. And one of the questions on my mind was, how can a writer figure out what they should write about? He thought about it for a moment and then he told me that to go home and look at my bookshelf, and whatever it was that I was reading is what I should be writing about. So I went home and looked at my bookshelf and I realized that I was reading a lot of nonfiction, but I was trying to write a lot of fiction, like thrillers and so on.
So I realized then that I should spend more time writing articles that either inform or educate readers. And that got me into nonfiction writing and blogging and so on. Now, Robert also wrote his autograph on my copy of his book Story, and he wrote me a little bit of advice, and I got to repost this on all the books that he signs. Basically he said, write the truth. In other words, if you're a writer, you should tell honest stories about you and your work so that you can inform or educate your readers.
New Speaker: The second reason why writing is so important is it will help you think clearly. So even if you're not interested in writing a best selling book, writing can often help you think through ideas on the blank page. And I often use journaling as a type of introspective writing because it's cheaper than therapy and it's helped me overcome times when I felt mildly depressed or anxious, or even when I've felt like I was blocked, I wasn't going anywhere with my creative projects.
And I try to write for 15 to 30 minutes every morning, before I start the day. I also find that journaling is helpful because it gets me into the habit of turning up in front of the blank page. And then when I'm looking for interesting anecdotes and stories, I can draw from my journal entries. If you haven't got started journaling, I'd encourage you to cultivate an early morning writing habit, because normally you'll have something to write about. Because you'll just be up and you could have dreamt of something interesting during the night, or you can reflect on the previous day. And you could use a dedicated journaling app like Day One, which is what I use. Or alternatively, you could use a password protected file on your computer, if you're worried about other people reading your journal entries.
If you want to use journaling to think clearly, I'd also say that you can sometimes use it to leave negative thoughts on the page so they don't bother you. And it's actually something Tim Ferriss talks a lot about on his podcast as well.
The third reason why writing is so important is, it will help you practice expressing yourself. Now, I remember a couple of years ago when I graduated as a journalist and I wasn't getting much work and I wasn't spending much time writing. And I was pretty annoyed and depressed about the whole thing. I felt like I wasn't going anywhere. And I was also working in a difficult job in social care that I really didn't like at the time. Now, I got out of that funk by joining the Irish Writers Center in Dublin, where I joined a group of other writers who were writing fiction and nonfiction.
We met up every Monday in an old airy room at the top of the Irish Writers Center in Dublin city center. Now, I didn't actually get many of my stories published from that particular workshop, but to be honest, it taught me how to express myself. Because each week we had to write a short story and read it aloud to all of the other members of the course. And you can imagine how terrifying it was to read your work aloud and then to get critical feedback about what people liked and didn't like. And in fact, the instructor had a rule that you had to sit on your hands and you couldn't say anything when you were getting feedback. Because when a reader reads your work, you're not there to explain or give a director's commentary to say what you really meant. But I got a lot from that workshop and I learned that writing is a great way of expressing yourself, or perhaps overcoming negative ideas that you have about how other people will perceive you.
The fourth reason my writing is so important is, it can help you entertain yourself or entertain other people. And I always think of the story of Stephen King, because he's written dozens and dozens of novels over the years. But when he wrote his first novel, Carrie, he actually threw an early draft of the manuscript in the bin. And this is something he talks about in his book on writing. And he was about to give up on it all together, but his wife fished the manuscript out of the bin and she flicked through the draft and she said to Steven, "I really think you've got something here." And that was enough for him to keep going, and thankfully he did keep going. And think how many thousands and thousands of readers he's entertained over the years since then. And he's certainly not doing it for the money anymore because he's a multimillionaire, but he's doing it because writing is something he gets a kick out of, which is what he talks about on writing. And it's also something his readers enjoy. In other words, he's a fantastic entertainer and storyteller.
The fifth reason why writing is so important is, it will help you earn money and earn a living. Several years ago, I got a office job as a copywriter for a corporate company. And I was spending all day sitting at a desk, hunched over a computer, writing sales copy. If you're not familiar with sales copy, it's basically the words that appear on a product page to sell a particular service. And I did enjoy the job because I was writing words for a living, but to be honest, I was spending an awful lot of time sitting at my desk. And I was also still interested in launching Become a Writer Today and writing fiction. So I was writing at a desk in the morning time before work and sometimes even in the evening after the kids went to bed.
Now, although all that writing time might sound like it could be fun, it actually caused me a few problems because I ended up getting sciatica from being hunched over a desk for 10 and 11 hours each day. And it got to the point where it would hurt when I would stand up and lean on my right foot. And I also got a case of RSI in my right hand, as well, from using a mouse that wasn't ergonomic. I eventually got over the case of sciatica by going to a physiotherapist, and he wasn't that cheap at the time. And he actually put me into traction and then he gave me a series of exercises that I needed to complete each day. And in fact, when I told him I was spending so much time sitting down, he said to me, "Bryan, sitting is the new smoking." But eventually I stuck with his exercises and I overcame the case of sciatica.
And I was relatively happy to pay the bill for overcoming the sciatica or for the treatment because I wasn't in pain any more. I think writing is a bit like that too, because if you provide a service to your reader, if you help them in some way, if you entertain or educate or inspire or inform them in some way, then you deserve to get paid too. In other words, you can be creative, but you still also get paid for your hard work. And thanks to things like self publishing, blogging, content marketing, copywriting, and basically all of the different opportunities that exist online today, you can get paid for your hard creative work and for living with words, and playing with words for a living.
The sixth reason why writing is so important is that it will help you make an impact. And I actually get emails from older readers who are members of the Become a Writer Today email list. And these are readers who probably have had a successful career in another field and are not really interested in earning more money because they've got that part of their life sown up. Not that they're rich, but they've already made a career for themselves. But they wants to write a book because it's something that they have inside of them. They want to make an impact with their stories and connect with other readers. And I think that's a fantastic motivation for writing. And in fact, I'll never forget when I self published my first book and there was a few problems with that book back then that I had to fix. But I remember uploading the files to Amazon on the book cover and clicking publish.
And then about 24 hours later, I got an email from Amazon saying, "Congratulations, you're an author. Your book is now available for sale." And I couldn't believe it, because I always thought you had to ask for permission to become an author. You had to get an agent and you had to land a book deal, and I had no clue how I'd be able to do any of these things. But the idea that a writer can now take charge of their own creative life and publish a book and if they have a little bit of skills start selling copies of that book was mind-blowing at the time. I even started getting emails from readers after I published that book, letting me know that there was some errors in the book that I needed to fix, which I did. And some actually said that they found some particular sections in that book helpful.
At the time, the book was called 33 Ways You Can Become a Productive Writer. I've renamed this book to The Savvy Writer's Guide to Productivity, and I've actually re-written it twice. But I still get occasion emails from readers who say they found sections in that book helpful. And I think that's fantastic because I didn't write that book for the money at the time. It was more just that I wanted to explore self publishing. And the idea that somebody would actually read and enjoy something that I self published or even take the time to tell me what they didn't like was mind-blowing. And even today, I get a kick out of pressing publish on Amazon or on my own site on Become a Writer Today.
And the seventh reason why writing is so important, well, practice breeds competency. What do I mean by that? So I told you about the time I was in the Irish Writers Center in Dublin, and our instructor was a balding Texan who was in his, I think, his early 40s at the time, or perhaps his late 30s. And he was pretty into writing literary fiction and literary nonfiction. And he always used to harp on at us about writing one true or one great sentence. And I didn't really know what that meant. But basically, he got us to read authors like William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway. And he pointed out sentences in their work that would tell a universal truth, like the one Robert McKee talked about earlier on in this show. And he would task us with going away with writing something that would speak to the human condition.
Yeah, he was a pretty serious guy. And then we would go away and write something and the following week we'd come back and read it out in front of the class and we'd get critiqued and then we'd figure out all the things that we did wrong. And I got pretty frustrated with the whole experience. But I remember we went for drinks one Monday evening at a local pub and we were drinking pitchers of beer. And he had this fantastic metaphor, he said that, "Bryan, trying to write one great sentence is like trying to throw a typewriter at the moon." I was like, "What do you mean by throwing a typewriter at the moon?" He said, "No matter how many times you throw the typewriter or how good you get at throwing that typewriter at the moon, you're never going to land on the moon, but you're still going to try anyway."
And that's what I think writing can be a little bit like sometimes. That you're never going to perfectly express what's inside of you or the ideas in your head on the blank page, but by turning up repeatedly, by doing the work and by expressing yourself, you can improve your game as a writer, you can improve your talent and you could find more readers.
There you go. Seven reasons why I think writing is so important. It will help you inform or educate readers, if you talk about your experiences. It can help you think clearly, even if you're not interested in becoming a successful author. You can learn how to express yourself and overcome negative opinions that you might have about what other people think of you. It can help you entertain yourself, because writing is fun, or it can help you entertain other people. It can certainly help you earn money today, thanks to all of the great opportunities online that exists for writers.
It can help you make an impact because it's easier than ever to reach readers, thanks to self publishing, blogging and so on. And it can help you build competency as a writer and as a creative professional. So those are the several reasons why I think writing is so important, but I want to leave you with one question. What does success as a writer look like for you? Because the seven reasons that I've listed in this podcast episode are my reasons for why writing is so important. And they're my answers to the question of what does success look like. But perhaps these reasons don't apply to you, so ask yourself, what would it mean to become a successful writer? Perhaps write down a couple of different reasons before you start your next big writing project. I hope you enjoyed the show. If you did, please leave a review on the iTunes store or wherever you're listening.
I hope you enjoyed this podcast episode. If you did, please leave a rating on the iTunes store. And if you want to accomplish more with your writing, please visit becomeawritertoday.com/join and I'll send you a free email course. Thanks for listening.
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