Write it Down
Writing is one of the first things we learn in school. As early as Kindergarten we’re taught to write letters, then words, then sentences. We learn to enjoy writing about ourselves, our families, and our experiences. Somehow, it’s also one of the first things we give up doing as we move through school. It becomes a chore no longer part of our core.
There are almost as many good reasons to write as there are words in our language. Perhaps, not quite, but this Chapter works to convey several reasons why writing is worthwhile. Writing is a tool which reinforces each of the other lessons listed in Earn Everything. Writing helps us work through difficult issues. We write not because we have the answer, but because we don’t. We work through our thoughts on paper in order to clarify our thinking. We try to take something complicated and make sense out of it. We can use our writing to make sense of our world. Our writing reflects how we think. We also write in order to be able to share our position with others.
Writing helps us evaluate past decisions. We’re often reminded that the past doesn’t predict the future. Though true, we should be seeking to learn from our past nonetheless. We should be making an effort to review how we managed a past situation in order to position ourselves to best manage a current decision. However, we typically do this, if at all, with hindsight. We think in the present about the past. This isn’t providing us with the most accurate reflection of where we were when making that past decision. If we, instead, had our thoughts on paper related to how we made that past decision, we can now look back on these in the present to get a more accurate picture of how we handled things. Can we learn about what our thinking was then and how our decision turned out in order to help us today. With the benefit of formally documenting our decisions, we are providing ourselves a great tool to draw on for future decisions.
Writing offers another way to cultivate discipline. Doing this in some way daily builds your belief in your own efforts (Chapter 1). Taking the time of a minute a day simply to copy down a quote from a news story, a book, a blog post, whatever, into a notebook. You’re reinforcing a useful message by physically writing it down. You’re preserving the information such that you will be able to access it in the future. You’re doing something daily to better yourself and build your discipline habit. Writing is a way to sustain streaks and reinforce the Power of Patience (Chapter 3). These are all benefits with the only cost being a modest commitment of time and energy. Starting with a minute a day is all you need.
Writing down the things you’ve done on some level also reinforces that you and your efforts matter. It reinforces your self-belief (Chapter 1).
Sitting down and thinking of what’s important to us is a great place to start to Cultivate our Code. The effort is enhanced by writing it down. Listing our values in a notebook adds legitimacy and a record to our effort. The act of writing makes something immediately more concrete. We’ve moved from the abstract of our imagination one step closer to reality. The act of writing something down reflects and reinforces that it matters to us. If we aren’t willing to write it down, what does that say about how much we value it? (Chapter 2).
Documenting our efforts at exercise is important. Knowing where we are helps us determine what we need to do. Even if we’re trying to do the same thing each time, the act of writing down what we’ve done helps build confidence based on the objective list of our efforts. (Chapter 4).
Writing down what we want to do as a checklist or “to do” list helps to keep us on track. We can craft our morning routine by writing it down. (Chapter 6).
Writing can bring pleasure when used to remind ourselves of the good things we have experienced. Taking a moment to regularly record something for which we’re grateful makes us feel good in the moment and becomes a resource we can draw upon in the future. Writing can be used to reinforce our gratitude. (Chapter 7).
We can use writing to reflect on difficult circumstances. If we have suffered or struggled, we can try to reflect on our troubles. Even where we didn’t handle the situation well in the moment, writing can be a tool to help us revisit the trying time and craft a narrative we could have used that would have been more constructive for us. How could we have told ourselves a different story such that we could benefit from where we found ourselves? (Chapter 8).
Prompts can be used to kick off efforts at writing. How can I help? Using a question like this and applying it to family, friend, or work can help us think through ways in which we can add value to a situation. (Chapter 9). Brainstorming lists for how we can contribute to an effort help us become useful to others.
You can also use writing to work through emotional issues. It is a great tool to apply Toil to TOYL (Chapter 10). We can write to vent. Put pen to paper instead of using our words as weapons. Once we’ve released our energy through writing, we can then give thought to whether there may be other explanations. Is it possible our personal biases are clouding our interpretation of events? What may the other person have been thinking or facing that explains why their behavior may not be irritating but perfectly reasonable?
In spite of all the benefits of writing, most of us won’t do it. As such, being one of the few that do would serve to illustrate one’s commitment to being willing to do what others won’t.