I jumped on a call with a course mate from Write of Passage a month ago and he asked me the million-dollar question – why do I write?
Here is what I told him.
It comes down to three things:
- Feeling grounded
- Differentiating myself
- Figuring out my purpose
1. Feeling grounded
Before I started writing and publishing my ideas online, it always felt like there was something missing in my life. Although I found stimulation in my career, I felt like I was only 95% complete.
I had thoughts and ideas that I wanted to share outside of a formal work context, but I had no place to express them. I felt incomplete because I hadn't created anything.
Writing has been my way of filling the missing 5%. I now have an outlet for my creativity. Where I was restless before, writing has allowed me to grapple with and express my thoughts and anxieties. I feel calmer and more grounded as a result of it.
The best part is, I don’t think I will ever be bored again. Since writing allows me to explore ideas, it has a limitless quality. There will always be more ideas. There will always be something to write about.
Even if I'm not successful as a writer, or if I don't get a lot of clicks or views or likes, that's perfectly fine. I know other writers will do better than me. Some people make money from writing. Maybe I will do so too one day, but it's not the reason why I'm writing. I'm doing this for me.
Writing is the perfect antidote to restlessness. It has added ballast to my ship.
2. Differentiating myself
Writing online is an incredible differentiator.
One. Your website is better than a CV. When you apply for a job, having a blog and having essays and showing that you’ve thought through some interesting topics will count in your favour.
This shows a different skill set, over and above the normal expectations. Most people can build up a strong CV and a good background with good references. But if you can go one step further, and write something and share posts, that will set you apart.
Two. Writing online increases your serendipity. It expands your range beyond the five people you email at work every day. When you post your essays and ideas online, your reach becomes infinitely larger. Instead of actively looking for opportunities, opportunities come to you.
After only six months on this journey, I am already experiencing the benefits of increasing my luck surface area. I’m receiving more job offers. People want to collaborate with me on projects. I am generating more business ideas. This is a big mental shift for someone who never saw themself as an entrepreneur or creator.
The best, and most unexpected, benefit has been making friends through writing. The internet is an incredible place. By sharing my ideas online, I have met talented people with fascinating ideas. People I may never meet in real life, have become close friends. Through discussing each other’s writing and promoting each other’s work, we have forged close bonds.
We are like vessels drifting past each other in the night. By turning your light on, other ships can see you. Other people can recognize the quality of your ideas and work.
3. Figuring out my purpose
Writing online is helping me to figure out what my purpose is. This is by far my biggest reason for writing.
This is the first time I have given this much thought to what I want to create with my life.
Before this, I followed a set path. To a large extent I did what was expected of me. I went to school, then chose a university degree based on what students with good marks should pursue and chose a career based on what people with my degree do. I’m simplifying this massively, but I followed a set formula.
Writing has given me licence to unpack what I really want. This is giving me back control. I can forge a new path.
By writing more and more, I am uncovering which topics resonate with me. I am finding out what I’m good at. I am unearthing my niche and personal monopoly. The best part is, I can potentially help more people and have a bigger impact as a result of this.
Where my ship used to chart someone else’s map, now I’m sailing towards my north star.
Thanks to Philipp Andriopoulos for posing the question.