Chris Kenworthy, author of ‘The Human Freelancer’ once said “You know you’re a writer when expressing yourself in written form is an all-consuming urge.”
So, looking back, it seems that I’ve had a love affair with the process of writing from an early age and journalling or writing poems was just the beginning of that love story after all. It was to be continued with a big passion for essay writing at school – by the age of 18 even in three languages – and then later at university. I still remember the kick I got out of the professor’s brief for my thesis when he said that writing many pages was easy, but the real art was in keeping things short and to the point.
The Free Dictionary defines hindsight as the “Perception of the significance and nature of events after they have occurred.”
I suppose that (self-printed) 100 page book that I wrote in my teens to overcome that broken relationship counts as this all-consuming urge of reaching for the written word, too. And in hindsight, I’d even regard my compulsory habit of rewriting my school and university notes as an indication of a strong appetite for writing. Not only did I intend to make my notes look nicer and neater, writing them down and shortening them (to fit on a cheat sheet) again and again, was my sure-fire way of memorising everything.
Once I started employment, my favorite objects of writing desire were strategic marketing and internal communications papers, business emails, project charters, technical user guides and similar more. I’ve also always had a clear thing for CVs and cover letters, having helped many a friend. I wonder if those were the first signs of my affinity for personal branding?
Today, if you asked me what my top “keep-me-sane” tools are, it’d be nothing less than writing to-do lists or lists of pending thoughts and ideas, aka brain dumps.
“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” – Soren Kierkegaard
Whilst the signs were many and the all-consuming urge to write ingrained into my DNA, sadly it never even occurred to me that writing could be a viable career. And so in between my graduation and my breakthrough as a professional copywriter lies a 15 year (non-writing focused) corporate career.
Having said that, both my educational background and corporate experience have still been valuable, even relevant, and I still had ample opportunity to write. At the end of the day, I’m also a great believer that everything happens for a reason and that the journey has made me the person I am today – much more content, stronger and overall more comfortable in my own skin.
“The true delight is in the finding not in the knowing.” ~Isaac Asinov
7 live-transforming attributes of writing
Having turned my career around, both by becoming an entrepreneur and by earning my living as a writer, has felt like coming home and has given me a deep sense of belonging. A feeling I would love to pass on and I believe can be achieved by anyone through the process of writing as it inherently comes with some of the following life-transforming attributes:
- Expressing – writing thoughts down basically means you’re getting them out of your system. This becomes particularly beneficial and liberating when your mind may be contaminated with negative thoughts and emotions.
- Creating – writing is also a way of channeling emotions into something creative. It’s a form of producing something and as such cultivates your creative muscles and expression, which makes life infinitely more fulfilling.
- Learning – as I said earlier writing things down really helps memorise things, and more than that writing helps to develop your thoughts and as such skills; even your whole being as you may start to view things differently. As Lord Acton said “Learn as much by writing as by reading. “
- Affirming – more than just learning or memorising, writing also makes things ‘firm’ in your mind. Especially when it comes to setting goals or cultivating courage and confidence, writing can be super effective to make things stick and really belief in yourself and your ambitions.
- Focusing – are you feeling overwhelmed and as a result unproductive? Try the writing cure to clear your mind, de-clutter your life and focus on what’s important to you. I can’t agree more with Ayn Rand’s quote “Words are a lens to focus one’s mind.”
- Connecting – it’s well known by now that words become thoughts and thoughts become actions and inspire our behaviour. If writing helps us transform our thoughts and channel our emotions in a more positive way, our relationships can only get better as a result, too.
- Healing – there’s no doubt (at least for me) that together all these positive traits are miraculous agents of emotional health and wellbeing, which at the most profound level will peel away any layers of fear you may have acquired to reveal your own true and powerful self.
Finding and nurturing my voice
I really hope that I’ve got your taste buds going by now. Perhaps I could not only encourage and persuade you to give writing a go, but you’ve even found a few of your own signs that there’s been a writer in you all along.
I firmly believe that writing is for everyone and I cannot recommend it enough. Even if it’s just writing to-do lists, initially, or also blogging and tweeting (which could both be done anonymously) or hiring a writer or writing coach, sooner or later a regular writing habit will have an effect.
However, just like a seed needs nurturing to develop into that beautiful flower, writing needs to be done and practised in order for these life-hugging and transforming side-effects to get activated.
It wasn’t until I started following my passion despite of fears of not being adequate or good enough, that I was also able to listen to my heart at the same time, thus removing those layers of doubts and insecurity and finally breaking through to my own authentic voice … as a writer! How truly liberating and life-changing!
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” ―Howard Thurman
B-for-Birgit, that’s me, Birgit Diggins, Founder and Lead Consultant at Power-Words, one of my colourful and free-spirited business ventures, where I help organisational and social changemakers make their words more powerful and work harder.