“Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia,” said E.L. Doctorow.
Anais Nin also eloquently explained that “We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.”
If you blend the two thoughts together, it is perfectly reasonable to test out your writing skills on any and every subject that inspires you. You don’t have to wait to become an expert. Write about what you know and like, while researching to fill in your blanks if necessary. Whether fiction or non fiction, go for it! If one day you want to write about wine tasting because you like wine, do it! If you want to write about communicating better with co-workers, do it! If you want to write about how to grow plants in an apartment or a farm, do it! If you want to chronicle your day, do it! If you’ve been writing the next great novel in your head, it’s time to get it on paper! Just let yourself write freely without judgement about anything that you want to express.
Writing is a form of exercise: Mental exercise. It forces recall of vocabulary, enhances imagination, pushes your self-imposed boundaries, and is good for your soul. I spend a good portion of every day writing. Sometimes for work, sometimes for fun, sometimes to reflect, and other times to project the future I want to live in. Writing is the place where I can dream freely about what I hope comes to pass in my life. It activates my mind and my imagination in ways that no other activity can.
Writing is how we tell the tales of life…and we are each excellent story-tellers. Whether a witty quip worthy of a New York Post headline, a multi page editorial, a personal diary, a blog, a contributed article, a book of any length, a “Note to Self,” a 140 character tweet, a clever caption on an Instagram photo, a letter to a friend, an email, a scribble shoved in a loved one’s pocket–in any form–it all counts as writing. Just the process of gathering your thoughts and moving them from your mind and into hand-written or electronic type, engages the creative juices and enhances critical thinking. Best of all, the act of writing requires us to use recall, memory and organized thoughts to express ourselves–all of which are essential tasks for keeping our brains functioning throughout our lives at their optimal capacity. This makes writing a healthy habit!
I write about anything and everything. At any given moment, I’m probably working on writing some portion of one of the next 2 or 3 books I’m percolating and would like to eventually publish…or not; writing marketing materials for my companies; creating and writing an online course with all related marketing materials; writing articles and blogs: writing notes to friends and family; writing emails and letters to clients; and, always scribbling lots of “Notes to Self.”
Writing gives my energies a creative outlet and has always been the companion to my love of reading. To date I’ve written a book about quotes from rock and roll songs that Putnam purchased from me–but never published; several health books; financial communications books; and, books on how to get publicity for free. Who knows what I’ll be writing next? I don’t know…and that’s OK too. I’ve got about a zillion half-written books percolating, and I add to one or the other based on my mood of the day and time in the week.
When you accept the writing challenge please remember this: Writing and editing are two different processes. Whenever someone asks “How do you write a book?” My answer is always the same: Begin writing. Start by singling out a 10 minute time-slot at the same time every day–just make sure it’s at a time where either 1) you can quit after the 10 minutes if you’re uninspired (but at least you fulfilled your personal promise to try) or 2) if you are truly inspired and words are flowing from your mind onto paper or your computer screen– you can continue for at least half an hour. The goal of this is discipline, which in my opinion is often the only difference between those who produce in writing and those who don’t. We all have great thoughts and a vocabulary that is “good enough” to express our initial writings. But the commitment to be a disciplined writer gets the job done. Later still, is when editing comes into the process. It is during editing that you can worry whether “there could be a better word to describe this…?” or “are my thoughts in the right order?” Do not edit while you are writing. This is counterproductive. The goal of writing is to express yourself in a free flowing, unedited way. After you decide what you want to do with your writing, like publishing it, for example, then you can worry about the editing. Otherwise, just express yourself and do it daily in writing. Your entire being will thank you for it.
So, what are you going to write?