How does writing make you a better person?

This post is a reply to the question someone recently put on Quora. The question was, “how does improving your writing skills help you grow as a person?

We learn reading and writing in the early years of our lives. Like every other thing, we continue to polish it as we grow old. Despite that, only a few of us take to writing even as a daily chore, forget as a profession. Let me tell you, of the things that make us better at who we are or what we do, writing constitutes a more significant share than it currently enjoys. Here’s why I say so:

Clarity of Thoughts

Writing is tiring. First, words don’t strike. When they do, thoughts don’t always weave in perfectly. And, even if we have a smooth fabric of views, we think we do not have any new ideas to share with people around. This insecurity adds to the already long list of impediments.

We forget that we don’t share only thoughts and ideas. We share the way of sharing: the way we communicate. So long as we are clear on what we wish to express, and how to convey it, we can have an attractive style of writing. But, will this suffice? Let me bring another point.

Mental Control

You could be clear about what or how to communicate, but the moment you sit down to write, your thoughts vanish like they weren’t even there. It happens to every writer; it’s happened to me, too. The deal, here, is to hold on to the thought until you pen it down. But writing isn’t easy. It takes time and practice, both of which bring me to the next point.

Persistence is the Key

Not all great/famous writers were born with their talent. None become who they are overnight. They endure a time-taking journey before they reach an attractive piece of writing. The path isn’t easy to walk. Writers fail every day. They make little progress. There are days when they don’t proceed even a single step. Still, they continue to write every day. They choose to persist as long as they don’t end up creating likable work.

Being Someone Else

Your written work takes the reader into the world of your characters. Readers get to live someone else’s experience, at different times, amongst people not known before, and in the situations that they have never faced before. You take them there. You give them the chance to be someone else, even though for only some time. But, to be able to do that, first, you must be that someone else. You must live their life. You must undergo the same situations and face the same challenges. You must confront the same people. All of that, while sitting at your desk. While completing your daily chores. You must feel the pain your protagonist might feel at the loss of their loved ones. You must feel equally desperate to set things right before writing about it. And only then will your readers share the same feelings.

Imagine this.

You are sitting in a coffee shop. You go there every day. But, today, you are the only one in the shop. So, you get to choose where to sit. You select a chair by the side of the window.

As you sit, you realize that there is a lot that’s happening on the other side of the window. A couple is walking their baby in a pram. A hawker is calling for prospects. A man who is perched by the roadside is reading a newspaper. Another couple is walking, their hands locked. A shopkeeper is cleaning the display window. A girl on her bicycle passes by your window. Her cycle cart has a kitten who is enjoying that ride. Just then, you happen to look up to see a bird’s nest near the canopy on the porch—home to two tiny birds—in the middle of a busy street.

You are merely an observer. Yet, from that perspective, you can imagine what each one of them might be thinking—even the tiny birds that haven’t yet learned to fly.

Being someone else is that easy; being someone else is that difficult.

With that, we are back to the question. I wish you to think of all of this in totality. It isn’t easy to register the changes at such micro-levels. It isn’t easy either to feel what others feel. Or, be persistent at something even after failing at it umpteen number of times. In the long run, it does make you considerate towards others. You feel their pain. It also makes you think and weigh your words before you use them. Writing, I conclude, makes me think more, feel more, see more, and make more from every moment.

What do you think?

Published by Suyog Ketkar

He is a certified technical communicator. He believes that writing continues to be an easy-to-do-but-difficult-to-master job. In his work time, he proudly dons the “enabler” cape. In his non-work time, he dons many hats including one of a super-busy father.

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