Everywhere I go I see people writing in those cool black journals. I see them in coffee shops, airports, hotel lobbies or any place that requires waiting or wasting time. What are they writing? It doesn’t matter. Whether it be deep thoughts about the universe or a short memo, the act of writing is important. The most successful people I see in business (or most other careers) are excellent writers. In fact, the best writers I ever worked with were investors at a venture capital firm. Their writing told a story about whether or not to invest millions of dollars. I write, and to be successful, you must write too.
The reasons why I write are not complicated but may be helpful to you.
- Writing is cathartic. Pouring out frustrations, plans, complaints and thoughts can be therapeutic. You will feel better after writing things down.
- Writing is not for fame or fortune. J.K. Rowling and a few others aside, you probably will never make much money, if any, for writing. Remember there is a difference between writing and publishing. Writing just to get published never produces great results. Write for the craft, the passion, the creativity.
- Writing will make others think you are smart and your mother will be proud of you. Movies are made about writers and there can be an intimation of a romantic life. That is not true, but don’t tell anyone.
- Writing creates something. Something is there right on the screen or in the notebook and a body of work exists. After spending a day looking at spreadsheets, columns of numbers or in meetings it can be gratifying to know that something, in fact, has been created and you did it.
- Writing helps me connect with special people I haven’t seen in a long time. I want others to know that the person that they knew is still in here. I hope they are reading and smiling.
- Writing can kill time. Have you ever been on an airplane when you don’t feel like reading and the headphones don’t work on the movie? Writing could be the solution. Time can whisk by when lost in thought trying to put a paragraph together.
For me, any illusion of being a great writer disappeared a long time ago. Maybe it was in college when I realized what great writing is and that the notion left me. Great writers make words sing and dance off the page. My words walk along next to each other and eventually form a story. I am an observer, I just write things down that I observe. The formula works for me, I have sold over 500,000 books through major publishers. Even as a writer who chronicles the notion of work, I don’t compete with the great nonfiction writers like Michael Porter or Malcolm Gladwell. The formula works for me but you need to find your own formula – your own voice.
Now I am about to attend a world famous writer’s conference – as a writer. I will be in residence at Writers Week in Listowel, County Kerry in Ireland with the likes of Richard Ford and Alan Cumming. It all started with being an observer and writing it down. You can do that too.