I have been thinking a lot recently about the intersection between writing and personal development. How does writing influence personal development, and what is there to gain by thinking about them together?
What I have concluded so far is that writing is a form of personal development. Writing helps you evolve toward being a better person, even if you’re not writing about enhancing your sense of self, goals, or life direction.
Personal development is a side effect of writing regularly. Of course, “personal development” encompasses much more than writing. However, if your goal is to write better, you’ll find that you become more reflective and more conscious as you focus on – and work toward – that goal.
For example, writing forces you to slow down, which is a major recommendation of productivity/life development blogs (including Writing Power). You can only write as quickly as your hand can move across the page (or as fast as you can type). No matter how fast that is, your mind is much, much faster. It’s making all sorts of micro-decisions while you scrawl a capital “T” or bang away at the keys.
Becoming a better writer entails becoming a better thinker. Writing, reading, and thinking are all part of the same set of mental processes. Therefore, improving your writing prepares the way for some powerful writing-personal development synergy. Here are a few examples:
- As your thinking becomes more creative, your writing’s word choice and narratives improve.
- As your thinking becomes more organized, your writing’s topic sentences, introductions, transitions, and “flow” get stronger.
- As your thinking becomes more sophisticated, your writing’s sentence structure and ideas become more complex and well developed.
- As your thinking gains clarity, your writing becomes cleaner, bolder, and easier to understand.
This same effect applies – with even more dramatic results – when you consider how writing reflects some of productivity/life development’s central mandates:
- As you begin to prioritize your life and focus on what is truly important to you, ideas will fall into their logical places within your draft.
- As you work to remove the clutter from your life and living space in favor of simplicity, your writing will be more focused and less cluttered.
- As you work to keep your spirits up and think positively, your writing’s tone will become more assertive and less qualified.
I do not mean to suggest that thinking happy thoughts will make you a better writer. They won’t. The only way to become a better writer is to write. Writers write. That’s it.
But I do believe in the power of your mindset. If you have made the choice to work on living simply, with optimism, clarity, and productivity, you have chosen to adopt a particular mindset, an approach to life. Conversely, if you’re not living the life you want, change begins with adopting a new approach – a new mindset.
The mindset you need to improve your life is the same mindset you need to improve your writing. That mindset is powerful: once you resolve to work on your writing, you may find that you instinctively make choices that improve other aspects of your life.
In the coming weeks, I will post a series of articles that provide concrete tips to give your writing the qualities I have mentioned above. It is my sincere hope that you will find them useful, in your writing as well as your life.