If you want to change the world, write.
I read something last year which said something along the lines of, “those who write, create”.
I do a lot of reading. Not all proper books – despite the fact I love reading a proper book, I rarely have time to fit in good stretches of book reading: Being a dad intentionally comes first, but reading also competes with watching films, tv, making dinner, sitting on the sofa. And so most of my reading is short website articles or blogs that some friend or other had shared on Facebook.
But I’ve come to recognise that reading small chunks of stuff all the time had started to change me somehow. It’s made me more impatient/intolerant of a misleading title, it’s made me more judgemental of views I don’t agree with, more passionate about sharing stuff I do agree with, as if I’m going to change the world through a good bit of regular curation. And yet the reality is, I know shared links are more likely to be read if they’ve got some kind of personal comment on them, but I often struggle to find something suitably clever to attract people to these articles.
I’m a consumer of information. And while that means I’m probably better informed, more knowledgeable and more inspired, I’m not making any impact with that information. It’s just flowing into my brain and sitting there until I can use it for a conversation or quiz question. And that probably means I’m forgetting some of it.
I’m creative. Yet the best way to stay creative, to develop my creative gifting of coming up with ideas, to get better at creating ideas that are useful, that inspire others, and impacting the world, is to practise creating. And one great way to do that is to write.
Non-writers don’t influence the world like writers can. And I want to influence the world. So I need to write. And I need to write lots.
One of the books I’ve been reading slowly (deliberately) over the last year is called ‘Bird by Bird’. It says the only way to develop as a writer is to write. And that when you write a lot, a lot of it is going to be shit. I mean, shockingly bad. Not worth reading. Not even worth editing into something better because it will still be shit. But the only way you’re going to learn what’s shit and what’s got something of substance to it is by writing.
I read another book recently called ‘Black Box Thinking’. It covers tons of subjects but is essentially about failure, and the vital importance of failure for progress, learning, improvement to happen. Without failure, we can’t progress. And so without valuing failure (and there is much of our western culture that sees failure as something to avoid, fear, reject, deny…) there’s no way for things to get any better.
So I’m setting myself a challenge. Every day I’m going to write something. Whatever it is. But I’m going to develop the habit of writing something.
And I’m going to share it publicly, knowing that most of it is going to be terrible, or at least very boring or whacky or make no sense (this is the guy who for years didn’t understand the logic of his English teacher saying his creative writing homework had ‘not made much sense’). I’m going to share it to keep accountable, to learn (please give your feedback, ask questions, etc).
I’m developing this habit because I want to be a Creator, a Maker, someone who Inspires and Impacts our world.
And I’m not going to edit anything. For one, I’m actually bloody good at that already and this is not about developing my critical skills. Second, it will take too long and will cause me to procrastinate about posting stuff. Third, as someone who knows I can write in several different styles already (speeches, poems, song lyrics, small group notes, articles, blog posts) I want others to see that people they see as ‘creative’ are just people who fail at creativity a lot more than they get it right. It’s just that those failures are usually edited out before publication. I hope I may inspire some other writers on my journey.
What will I write? Stuff I’m thinking about, stuff I’ve read, stuff that I’ve experienced, stuff that’s going on in the world. Most likely I will write a bunch of nonsense. But that is ok. Because people like Spike Milligan and Lewis Carroll did alright writing nonsense.
Please feel free to read, or not to read. If anything I write inspires you to write yourself (either because it’s good, or its so shockingly bad you believe you could only do better!), go for it. But I’d appreciate your encouragement along the way. If you notice a day has gone past without me expressing a word, call me on it.
Inevitably, with me doing more writing, something’s gonna have to give. And that is likely to be all the short bits of reading. I’ll let you know if I feel any less informed (I suspect not somehow)