When I write a book I write a book for myself; the reaction is up to the reader. It’s not my business whether people like or dislike it.
- Paulo Coelho
If you ask masters how they first started their craft, they will all point to love. They loved what they were doing. Or they did what they did for those they loved. As for me, I fall in the latter group.
I began writing for a girl. She like what I wrote, so I kept on writing to make her happy. But over time, our love (more like lust) grew cold and we drifted apart. Since my reason for writing is no longer there, I wrote less and less. Eventually, we went our separate ways. She pursued international modeling. I pursued a career in business.
Even though I lost my muse, little did I know at the time, the act of writing ignited a spark in my soul. There were nights when I just had to write; I could not sleep if I did not commit my words onto digital paper.
It took six years from the time we parted ways for me to write consistently. I found my muse again — one which will never leave: myself. I don’t write for anyone else, but myself.
I am fortunate to have stumbled across such a worthwhile habit. Writing regularly benefits me greatly. “How?” you ask. Well, here 6 ways writing has made me into a better man, and how it may help you too …
1. Writing Sharpens Your Mind
When you write, you commit your words to public scrutiny. If you don’t wanna look stupid, you better make sure you know what you’re talking about. You better make sure you got your facts straight. You better structure your thoughts in a way that makes sense to others. In the process of doing these, you will sharpen your mind.
To write well, it is better to know more than less. And the more you know, the better you are able to respond to any given scenario.
If you follow my works, you know that I love to vilify the big business of higher education. So let’s take student loans and turn that negative situation into something positive.
You just graduated from colleges and are drowning in federally-provided school debt. After 6 months of bumming around at home, unable to find a job, you realized you’ve been hoodwinked. But now it is too late. You’re stuck with a mortgage-sized debt without any way of repaying it.
In your desperation, you began writing about your plight. You read the experiences of others who are going through the same thing as you. You stumble across Alex Ding, and he advises you to always be in control.
What’s the worst that can happen if you try to seize your destiny? You have always wanted to do your own thing and didn’t have the guts to do it until your back was against the wall. You’re willing do whatever people needed done. So you decide to take matters into your own hand and start an odd-jobs business.
Business is small at first. On average, you make $10 a day (which beats your previous record of $0 a day), but you see potential for growth. After a month, you find out that you’re good at odd-jobs and your reputation spreads around the neighborhood — you’re the go-to guy to get things done.
A few months into your new venture, you get a phone call from a company you interviewed with. You applied for a financial analyst job right out of college. You’re not too fond of the work, but you only applied because all your classmates did. The big guys from the company wanna hire you. They’ll give you a respectable starting salary of $50,000 a year. But they will expect you to work hard for it — 60 to 80 hours a week.
You don’t have enough time for both your business and the job. You gotta choose: your small, but growing business or a “safe” job. Which will you choose?
Most people would take the job. They think it is what successful people do. That is what their parents and teachers would have done. Plus, they don’t wanna default on the loan.
However, you choose not to take the student loan into account when making your decision.
As you wrote more and more about your loan, your inability to pay it, and your business venture, you stumble across information about loan repayment programs: Income Based Repayment and Pay As You Earn. Your repayment amount is based upon your income. Since you didn’t not make too much (yet), you were able to pay nothing towards the loan and still stay out of default.
If you pursue your business and if it fails, you continue to pay nothing without repercussions.
But if you take the job solely for the money, you are reduced to indentured servanthood, because 55% – 80% of the money goes to someone else:
- 40% to the government
- 10% – 15% to the banks (to pay back school loans)
- 5% – 25% to transportation & room for the job (expenses you would not have if it wasn’t for the job)
So instead of seeing the situation as a risky venture versus a safe job, you see the situation as growing your own business (and your own reputation) versus spending 60 – 80 hours a week, doing something you couldn’t care less about, for a net pay of $10,000 – $20,000+ a year (after taxes, loan repayments, and work expenses).
Personally, I would choose my own business.
Before writing regularly, I saw what other people saw. But now, I see what other people can’t. If you can base your decisions on reality, rather than what “higher ups” want you to see (i.e. smokes and mirrors), you can take advantage of the situation, instead of being taken advantage of.
2. Writing Helps You Communicate Better
Is it a surprise that as you write more and more, you get better and better at writing? I don’t mean to brag, but I am a better writer than 99% of the world. That is because I write more than 99% of the world. In my years of writing, I have learned how to write headlines that demand attention. I have learned how to make boring topics interesting. I have learned how to create stories that will absolutely shock you.
(In the future, I will delve writing techniques, especially copywriting and storytelling, and teach you how to write well. But techniques can only bring you so far. The basis of good writing is the underlying idea, fueled by your creativity and knowledge.)
Writing does not just hone my writing skills. It also hones my speaking skills. Basically, it makes me better with words and turned me into word smith. A master sword smith.
If you can communicate well, whether through written or spoken words, you will get more of what you want. Martin Luther King, Jr. became who he is not just because of his convictions, but also because of his mastery with words.
3. Writing Grows Your Soul
Originally, I wanted the subheader to say, “Writing Instills Honesty and Bravery.” But honesty and bravery only applies to those who write honestly and bravely.
Writing is a reflection of your soul. If you are timid and insecure, your words will reflect that. If you are honest and brave, your words will reflect that too.
It is easy to be bland, politically-correct, and safe. If you take the safe and easy route, don’t expect to be braver than most people. Most people are safe and easy. But if you take the hard route and write down truth, even when doing so makes you bleed, you’ll grow in boldness.
When you bare your soul to the world …
When you reveal who you truly are (instead of revealing a politically-correct, clean-cut image of what others think you should be) …
Expect critics. Expect spectators. Expect naysayers.
When they arrive, keep on pushing through and your convictions will grow stronger. Fight for your writings, and you will grow your soul. And that is precisely how writing will promote truth and courage.
Don’t expect the same if you give up your writing at the slightest hint of criticism.
4. Writing Turns You into a Renaissance Man
When you first begin writing, you will realize how little you know. If you are serious about developing your craft and if you wanna create something worth reading, you have to seek out knowledge. I don’t know of a good writer who did not read voraciously. All good writers read a whole lot.
Because I write about many different things, from medicine to business to technology to politics, I read about many different fields. As I know more and more, I realize how everything is interconnected. As in The Renaissance (an era of immense creativities and innovations) when you have an intersection of knowledge and culture, you’ll have an explosion of art — something unique and original — created by mashing old concepts in novel ways.
You too can create art. And above all, as you know more and more and become a Renaissance Man, you can see what most people can’t — truth.
5. Writing Makes You Money
Yes, it is true. Writing can make you rich. It brings external rewards — money, fame, and power (to change people’s minds). But let’s focus on money, because everyone wants it and because it is measurable.
Stephen King is worth $400 million. Oliver Stone, the creator of Scarface, is worth $50 million. Dan Kennedy makes over $1 million a year. Jon Morrow made $500,000 in 2012.
I chose these examples because they highlight the different ways you can make big bucks from writing.
King as a fiction writer. Stone as a screenwriter. Kennedy as a marketer / copywriter. And Morrow as the creator / owner of a popular site.
(I want you to pay special attention to Jon Morrow. Here’s a guy with spinal muscular atrophy (type I). He couldn’t move from his neck down. He’s not supposed to live past 10 years. And yet, he’s done more and made more money in his 30 years than most able-bodied men in their lifetimes — all through his command of the word.)
The bottom line is that if you can educate, entertain, and inspire through your words, you can make good money.
Just so you don’t think that making money from writing is reserved for those on top of the pyramid, I personally make money from selling my books. I started a bit more than 1 year ago and have made money ever since the very first day. To this day, sales are still going strong.
But more than making money, I am learning so much about business. This will help me down the road when I start my medical practice. (Again, do you see how everything is interconnected?)
I just started. Imagine what will happen 5 years, 10 years, 20 years down the road. I can only imagine, but it will be spectacular.
6. Writing Makes You Immortal
One of my favorite books is The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli — written 500 years ago. It is safe to say that Machiavelli is long dead. But even from his grave, he continues to teach me … and many others. He has shaped people in history. He shapes people presently. And he will shape people in the future.
Look at the major religions. All of them are rooted in some kind of holy book. Why? Because great works endure forever.
If you produce great works, if you do great things, you will be remembered forever. This is especially true for great writing. Immortality is within your grasp … one word at a time.
As Benjamin Franklin said …
If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing.
But I ask, “Why not do both?”