Today I’m marveling a bit about how many spill-over effects writing has had on my entire life, and how pervasively it has benefited me as a fumbling human.
Creative writing has been part of my life in some form or another since I was little, though I was mostly dabbling in it or journaling.
When I did step beyond dabbling, I also stepped into an ever-present desire to ‘get somewhere’ with it–and that would be nice!– but here are a few incredible benefits I’d like to remind myself of, about how the work of writing really is its own reward:
- More Confidence. Writing creates an inner center of self-esteem and confidence because “Confidence sits in the center and knows…” (where did I hear this?! I can’t find the reference but think of this phrase often). Rather than trying to convince others that I am worthwhile, I tend to have more true non-solicitous confidence when I’m writing a lot.
- More Courage. Writing empowers me to dare more even when I don’t feel confident, because I’ve already hoped and visualized certain things in ink. Or, I’ve named my fear and my strategy against it, so it doesn’t seem larger than it is!
- More Verbal Finesse. Writing absolves me of confusion, making it easier to verbalize what I think about difficult topics. Most of the time!
- More Work Ethic. Writing keeps me out of trouble because it’s such hard work and takes up my time! Staying away from life’s vices is not hiding or being unbalanced. It’s smart.
- More Contentment in Aloneness Versus Loneliness. I definitely get lonely, and sometimes deeply, but writing is part of what introduced me to my own unique self, my own voice. Though I love being with people, too, I can honestly say I’m just as happy in my own company. Or rather, I need both while not secretly longing for one over the other, which I think is a balanced way to be.
- Motivation and Self-Persuasion. Writing makes me more the boss of myself. If I’m not motivated or invested in my goals or whatever, I know how to write myself into being motivated.
- More Decisiveness. I solve most daily problems and even deeper problems fairly decisively thanks to how writing has taught me to think. Writing about those things I am deliberating about typically gets me to the crux of what I have to confront fairly quickly.
- More Extroversion. Writing has improved my ability to come up with stuff to talk about. The more interesting stuff I’m writing about and researching, the more I have to draw on in random conversations–which has been helpful for an introvert like me, who’s had to learn to be an extrovert in order to get more out of life.
- More Benevolence Toward My Fellow Humans. Writing leads me to judge and gossip less with other people because I’ve already vented by scrawling it out. When I do talk to people, I have more actual insight to share in the place of gossip. When I don’t write, I struggle to not gossip my confusions or ventings, because I’m of the don’t-smother-your-feelings and be-honest-to-a-fault ilk. But also, writing makes you think about people in a broader light, helping me love people more, and in turn gossiping begins to feel like a really small thing to engage in rather than a ‘necessary’ way to vent.
- More Humility. When writers mess up, those mistakes are either openly manifest in print, which is humbling, or a new realization omits huge chunks of writing you’ve done, which is painful. For example, a shift in paradigm can negate a disgusting quantity of words (and work). I’ve had to learn how to be more quick to admit when I’ve been just flat-out wrong and accept sunk costs without looking back on them in agony. It takes humility to let those things go.
Sometimes I hear myself expostulating about writing like this, like it’s the ultimate force of the universe or something, and feel like I need to emphasize that an authentic daily relationship with my Heavenly Mother, Heavenly Father, and Savior is my more precise source of all these self-actualized things.
One Last Thought: Writing as a Weight to Get Traction
Writing is probably as beneficial as it is because it’s so heavy–as we all know, it’s more work than it is inspiration.
This idea of a heavy load creating traction is an interesting idea I first heard from one of my church leaders (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints / Mormon) David A. Bednar, who related how a friend of his got a stuck vehicle out of the snow. It’s a really cool concept even if you’re not into churchy stuff.
“My friend decided, “Well, I will not just sit here.” He climbed out of the vehicle and started cutting wood. He completely filled the back of the truck with the heavy load. And then my friend determined he would try driving out of the snow one more time. As he put the pickup into gear and applied power, he started to inch forward. Slowly the truck moved out of the snow and back onto the road. He finally was free to go home, a happy and humbled man…It was the load of wood that provided the traction necessary for him to get out of the snow, to get back on the road, and to move forward…Sometimes we mistakenly may believe that happiness is the absence of a load. But bearing a load is a necessary and essential part of the plan of happiness…”
Beyond those validating moments when we feel writerly, it’s stinking hard work. I love it, though, because no matter what crazy amount of sweat equity we put into it, we get even more back–and it’s a pretty staggering range of benefits.
Those benefits then go even further because that strength benefits others around us as well. Score!
But again, Universe–I’m pretty open to ‘getting somewhere’, too. 😉