Getting Out Of Your Head
I think often about why I write. Writing is something that I’ve been doing since age eight, the age at which my father made me write an essay every day after school about what I had learned that day. Although I may have hated it at the time, looking back it was one of the best chores I ever had as a kid because it became a lifelong habit that I continue. The ability to communicate, especially through the written word, has served me well in my time here on this planet. The most important aspect that I like about writing, as opposed to other forms of communication (my college major), is that writing allows me to clear my head of the noise caused by thoughts. In a way, it’s my preferred form of meditation. The added bonus is that when I write, often I’m able to share my ideas with others. However, make no mistake, I write as much for myself as for anyone else. It’s my therapy. It can be yours as well. What follows are my suggestions for anyone looking to start writing.
1. Keep a journal. This doesn’t have to be a diary, but at least some sort of book or binder that you can use to collect your great ideas, experiences and insights. I use legal pads as well as The Five Minute Journal, which gives prompts on various topics to write short answers. Collecting your thoughts in physical form is a great way to clear your head, and it provides you with something to pass on to others. Indeed, some of the great ideas and philosophy have come from the journals of incredible individuals.
2. Try to write at least one long paper, and a few short articles. The ability to write is something that needs to be exercised often to ensure it remains effective. The greatest advantage of college, in my opinion, is that students are forced to produce long form term papers. The ability to construct such documents is greatly advantageous in life, especially for scientists, authors and attorneys–the livelihood of which depends on their ability to read complex documents and produce them. However, short, concise articles can be just as effective to communicate with others.
3. Start a blog or write letters to the editor. Communicating your ideas to others with the purpose of influence is vital to furthering discourse in society. While you don’t have to hold strong opinions on all subjects, nor should you if you’re not informed, it is highly useful to present an argument in writing and back it up with facts, logic and reason. Any argument will do, from why Disneyland is the best theme park on Earth, or why “It’s a Wonderful Life” is the greatest Christmas movie ever, to more serious subject like politics or the economy. It doesn’t really matter what you think, only that you’re able to convey it well!
4. Write for yourself, but understand your audience. As a former newsroom editor, I’m used to writing very short, easy to read sentences in the present tense. This is done so the writing is easily read by the on air talent and it sounds like they are speaking directly to you. If you notice, on television and radio, most of the dialogue is very short and to the point. However, I also like to read very dense literature like philosophy, biographies and so on. I also love poetic literature and plays. While I would love to write in this style, and I may do so in the future, I understand that short articles are more read and easily understood than most long form content. I know that may audience is busy and usually wants me to get to the point, so I keep most of my work short and I even use bullets and numbered paragraphs to make it even easier for them to follow. (I do hope this helps.)
In closing, I suggest writing a little something every day (other than a social media post), so that you may refine your skills of written communication. More than that, writing and note-taking can be the best form of therapy you ever undergo because it allows you to take the thoughts in your head and “dump” them onto paper. It can be a form of organizing your thoughts and clearing your mind. You may even use this to write down and keep track of goals you set for yourself. Whatever you do, just remember to WRITE!!!!!