Writing Is Hard Work, Why Bother?

From Jeff: This is a guest post by Phil Vaughan. Phil lives in Parker, Colorado with his wife and two teenage sons. He blogs about servant-leadership, emotional intelligence, parenting, and cultural stuff. You can follow his blog or connect with him on Facebook and Twitter @philip_vaughan.

Writing is by far the most difficult work I engage in. And it is also the most rewarding. Most writers I know tend to agree.

As I invest more time and effort in writing, I remind myself why I spend countless hours imagining, typing, erasing, thinking, and rewriting.

Writing Is Hard Work
Photo credit: Flickr (Creative Commons)

It’s a lot of work. Why does one bother?

Well, because it’s worth it.

There are three very simple, but very important reasons why writing is worth our trouble.

1. Writing helps us clarify thoughts

There are lots of ideas that make sense in my head until I try to explain them. Then, I open my mouth. And the most convoluted, incoherent drivel comes spilling out.

Unrelated fragments and disconnected thoughts confuse both me and the listener.

Writing helps cure this.

I often work out the rationale of my opinions while in a spirited discussion with a gracious friend. Often, the leap from “something I think” to “something I say” helps to prune away flaws in logic, expose weak reasoning, and unearth thoughts that need a bit more incubation.

The process of writing has an even more profound impact on my thought process than a conversation does.

It allows me to more clearly understand my own thoughts and ideas.

2. Writing helps us distill ideas

Maybe I’m a slow processor. Or maybe I just love the power of a well-crafted sentence.

Regardless, my opinions aren’t really worth embracing until I can communicate them convincingly, thoughtfully, and artfully.

And that happens best on paper.

The discipline of writing can dismantle an unworthy idea. It can also transform a mere opinion into a deeply-held conviction.

When I write regularly, I find that my thoughts are more distilled and clarified than they normally would be.

Writing is the furnace of transformation that burns away the dross and leaves behind the thoughts worth keeping.

3. Writing changes the world

It sounds lofty, but it’s not.

The written word has an eternal shelf-life.

Have you ever quoted Emerson? How about Thoreau? Maybe even Twain? You probably didn’t cite their spoken words. You quoted their written words, which have outlasted the physical life of their respective authors.

I’m convinced that the written word has the potential to make more of an impact than any other form of communication.

Because of writing, I have been mentored and influenced by the likes of C.S. Lewis, A.W. Tozer, and Walt Whitman.

The influence of the written word gave spark to the modern civil rights movement. It has ignited revolutions throughout history. Because of the lasting impact of words, complete economic systems have been transformed.

We live in a period of history in which words can be published by anyone and read by everyone. The potential for the written word to spread has never been greater.

Harnessing the power of the written word

In short, the power of a well-communicated idea, in written form, is simply unmatched.

It has the potential to change the world.

And that is why I write.

Because my opinions and convictions need the transformation only writing can offer. Because I want to make a lasting impact on the world around me. And because I want that impact to outlast my life.

It may be hard work, but it is worth it.

Why do you thinking writing is worth the trouble? Share in the comments.

*Awesome dinosaur photo credit: Flickr (Creative Commons)