The act of writing is a journey, an exploration. It is also an excellent way to acknowledge the past and express gratitude for what came before.
Why is that relevant today?
Today is Indigenous People’s Day in many places in America. The day acknowledges the American people who were here before Europeans arrived en masse. It draws attention to the genocide, discrimination, and suffering those people experienced at the hands of many of the newcomers.
Today is also Columbus Day, a day set aside by the federal government to acknowledge the historic moment when Europeans discovered the Americas. Those were not the first Europeans to “discover” America. Still, this “discovery” marked the beginning of an era that would impact and transform both continents.
Writing has much in common with the spirit of both celebrations.
Recognize What Was, What Is
When you write, you begin to see things you may not have before, or at least that you haven’t fully understood.
If you’ve ever journaled, you get this. As you write, you sometimes better grasp what got you where you are. If you’re like me, sometimes things spring from the page. “I had no idea this is something I do all the time!” Or, “I didn’t realize I thought that!
The same holds true for blogging about your profession, what you’re studying, or experiences you’ve had. Writing reveals truth you may not have grasped before.
1. To Honor
Again, journaling is a good example of how this works.
Sometimes when I journal, a person’s name pops up. Other times, while processing my thoughts as I described above, I realize I owe a person or experience a debt of gratitude.
It may even be someone or something I didn’t see as particularly pleasant. Or maybe he, she, or it just didn’t hold a prominent place in my memory.
Suddenly I realize, though, that I would not be who I am without that person. I would not be where I am if that hadn’t happened. Recognizing that and expressing my gratitude for it lets me appreciate—literally, lets me place a price or value on—that person, that memory.
Writing it down gives it even more weight.
What do I mean? Well, has anyone ever given you a heartfelt “thank you?” It meant a lot, didn’t it? And gratitude is good for you and your practice or business. (Check out my Thanksgiving Day post in a couple of weeks to find out why.)
But when you take that gratitude and put it in an email or thank you note, you make it concrete. You give it a permanence. You magnify the impact. The same is true of writing about how thankful you are for an experience. And again, gratitude brings personal and professional benefits!
2. To Acknowledge
Writing things down can show us mistakes, even wrongs committed.
Patterns of thought or behavior that do not serve us or others well may appear.
Choices that have caused hurt, problems, inefficiencies, or unnecessary inconveniences in our routines and procedures may surface.
Processing these missteps in writing helps get into the nitty-gritty: how did it happen? What steps led to it happening? What feelings or circumstances motivated the choices or behavior?
More important: how can we avoid repeating the past? How can we correct the present?
Recently I bought a mini-coaching package for marketing. Reading over the notes I wrote on the market research interviews I did gave me so much insight. I had to be willing to acknowledge that some of what I had been doing was not getting me where I want to go.
At the same time, seeing it in writing helped me understand how I can improve!
That leads me to my next point.
Discovery: What Is, What Can Be
Till now, we’ve looked at ways writing helps us discover things about the past or present. We’ve seen that through the written word, we discover what we need to honor, be grateful for, and change. Yet it also shows us the depth of those things.
3. To Explore the Way Forward
Taking time to write does more than help us understand and honor our past. It can also help us explore ways forward.
We’ve all heard the importance of writing our goals down.
Don’t just write them down, though. Get detailed. Get specific.
Doing so will help you clarify your vision and refine your strategy to get where you want to go.
It’s not just about goals, though.
For example, I don’t always know exactly what a piece will say when I sit down to write. Sometimes I surprise myself. I start with a topic or idea, and as I write, the way forward becomes clear.
Many writers can relate.
The same is true of finding ways to correct issues and move on from mistakes. Writing serves healing, amends, and course-correction as it serves goals. It helps us clarify and adjust the path ahead.
4. To Open a New World for Readers
I’ve focused till now on how taking the time to journal, blog, or author a book can help put the writer in touch with the extent of her or others’ current blunders or debt to the past.
A good, authentic writer can take the reader on a similar journey of discovery.
You’ve experienced this as a reader, right?
You read an article about a problematic behavior in the workplace and thought, “Yeah, I see people do that.” The topic marinated in the back of your mind all day, and then, oops! You caught yourself doing the same thing!
Or maybe you’ve read about someone’s parent or mentor. This spurred you to think about the people who’ve made you who you are.
Whether in her personal or professional life or in her profession itself, a writer can spread awareness on a topic.
She can do more.
She can also provide a mirror for the reader. You know, like that moment when you catch yourself doing that thing your annoying coworkers do?
Cool how that works, right?
The two celebrations on this day, Indigenous People’s Day and Columbus Day speak to us of:
- acknowledging what came before us,
- honoring the past,
- learning from our mistakes,
- forging new paths for ourselves, and
- spreading new awareness to others.
Writing can do all of those things for you, whether you keep a gratitude journal, blog for your business, submit articles to your professional journal, or author a book on a topic the world needs to hear.
So what are you waiting for?
Pick up a pen and notebook–or open a new document on your computer—and get started!
If you’d like to write but need help getting started, a ghostwriter or writing coach can help! What’s the difference? Check out Our Process for ghostwriting here. Writing coaching is the same, except that you do the writing. The coach helps you plan and get organized, and gives you feedback on your writing. Contact us to make your writing happen! Are you in?