But perhaps the greatest benefit of public writing for me has been to become less self conscious. I've lost a fear of failure, and constant self-criticism. I know I'm not the world's greatest author but giving up perfectionism has lead me to become kinder towards myself and to others.
But the only way to achieve this is to put your work out there for others to see. It's very liberating!
So why write? Here's a couple of ideas how and why you should get started.
Write a blog
I started my first blog about four years ago. I didn't quite know why I started, and what I wanted to write, but I had a feeling I had to explore something. It was party because I felt there was a lot I wanted to learn about interacting in the digital environment, but the deeper reasons were much more interesting.
My first blog was quite professional, I was trying to appear smart and make insightful comments about branding and the visual world (that was my profession). However, only starting this DrivenWoman -blog has helped me to explore more meaningful things, to really discover myself and hopefully help others.
Writing this blog helps me to reflect on my life and my choices. It also forces me to be present and focus - a very good exercise for anyone. You can't just write a stream of consciousness (or you can but it's not very good), you must think about what you write and pay attention to details and grammar. Writing also helps me to clarify my thinking and get new ideas. This blog has helped me to connect with others in a new level and even get new friends.
If writing a blog is not your thing you should spend more time on writing comments to what other people write. It's very easy to just skim the internet and not really pay attention to the pages you visit and blogs you scroll through. If you read something that touches you, write a comment about it and the effect will stay with you. You can deepen your understanding of the subject because you start interacting with it.
Commenting on blogs have many benefits. You can expand your network. People who write blogs appreciate comments more than you can imagine. Comments are pure gold in the digital universe. High quality comments are very valuable to the blog owner and you are likely to get rewarded by new Twitter followers or even new life time friends. On a more practical level you can drive traffic to your own project or website by commenting on relevant blogs and thus expand your network.
Write 'Morning Pages'
Morning Pages are three pages of stream of consciousness writing done first thing in the morning. Morning Pages were recommended by a leadership coach who's training I attended about 10 years ago. His reasoning was to "get all the noise out of your head first so you can get faster to the thoughts that matter". We often wake up with lots on nonsense in our heads (at least I do!) and those thoughts lead to action. Nonsense thoughts lead to nonsense action and starting the day wrong, wasting time on non-important stuff. Morning Pages helps you to get clarity and focus.
Morning Pages should always be hand written. They are not proper writing, they are cleansing, so there's no need to think about grammar or spelling. Just get it out. They are also private and you can actually simply throw them out as soon as you've written them. The act is more valuable than the end product.
I'm a great fan of writing notes. I quite frankly don't understand people who don't carry a note pad around at all times. And my biggest crisis if I forget my notebook at home. Why? I suspect people who don't carry note books don't value their own thoughts and ideas enough to write them down. But everyone has great ideas and thoughts about things they are passionate about!
I write down my own ideas and thoughts, often blog post ideas, product ideas or the bigger dreams and visions for the business. I might be sitting on a train drafting a work plan or a to-do list for a particular project, or just writing down what I need to get done for my kids' birthday. The temptation is of course just spend all the travel time on social media (and yes, it is a great time to check Twitter!), but it's also great thinking time.
And when I meet people I always hear tips about books I should read, and inspiring people I should watch on TED or meet in person.
Writing everything down with a pen and paper carries a certain amount of weight to it, a real initiative that I'm going to do something about these ideas. When ever I put things into my iPhone (or laptop) I forget them and they simply disappear in the digital universe. And what's more, it's been proven that you get deeper understanding and remember handwritten notes better than if you use a digital device.
And when I'm attending a seminar I never take the printed summary of the presentations. I want to write down my own ideas and interpretations of what people have said. This way I own them.
Write down your goals
Research shows that those who write down their goals are many times more likely to actually achieve them than those who simply dream the dreams in their mind. Napoleon Hill writes how "a written statement of your desire communicates directly to your subconscious mind". (See DrivenWoman reading list 'Think And Grow Rich'.)
So by writing down what you want in life you engrave it in your subconscious mind. This has to be done repeatedly or your desires will simply be buried underneath everything else, but through writing you can basically influence your subconscious mind.
Why is this so important? The subconscious drives to survive and thrive your every behavior. Subconscious mind gives directions to the conscious mind, and your behaviour, and is often fuelled by limiting beliefs and negative thought patterns. Writing is a great tool to re-wire the subconscious mind with more positive thoughts and instal a 'can-do' attitude.
I hope I have been able to inspire you to start writing if you don't write yet regularly. And if you do, I'd love to hear your comments (oh yes, the comments!) on what benefits you have had from writing regularly.