Why do I write?
I write to free my mind. To liberate the thoughts held within and give shape and form to my feelings.
I write because it’s cathartic. It provides me a form of release of daily life in a medium that is private and trusting.
I write because it gives me clarity. Forcing myself to go from idea to thought to words challenges me explore and define that which my mind is wrestling about.
I write because I believe it will make me better. I believe writing is the ultimate form of expression; timeless and precise. Writing allows me to share and express ideas with others; impact at scale.
Simply put, writing helps me discover myself.
The past 10 weeks I held weekly writing sessions. During these sessions I sat down with 2 to 3 cups of coffee, a notebook and a pen. The goal was simple. To write an essay. I could write about whatever I wanted to. Although it mostly ended up being about events or struggles I was experiencing in my personal and professional life. There’s no separating those two.
The first essay, #1: “A Week’s Retrospective”, was a short one. I sat down and reviewed my week. I worked through the week’s challenges and took stock of some of the highlights. It was a first step to begin on this writing challenge.
The second essay, #2: “A Random Walk through my Thoughts”, helped me sit down and flush out everything that was on my mind. I wrote about finance, surfing, reading, health, career moves, learning night. I even drew a little model to give order and structure to all these ideas I wanted to pursue.
The third essay, #3. “Why do I value Learning?”, was a reflection on the activity that I value the most. I expressed my philosophy on continuous learning and how I believe learning is the catalyst for personal growth.
The fourth essay, #4. “Why am I so Organized?”, was a reflection on how past events in my life have shaped the fibre of my character. This essay helped me realize how I’ve become the professional I am today and break my craft down into practices and principles.
The fifth essay, #5. “What it means to be a Great Partner“, was a pseudo-joke. I firmly believe that clear expectations and understanding of desired outcomes make us more effective individuals. With this in mind, I drafted out a job description for romantic partners. It describes the desired behaviors and preferred qualities of a partner; as well as the reward for a job well done.
The sixth essay, #6. “What my Partner means to Me”, was a moment of appreciation and gratitude. I took the time to appreciate everything that Vickie does for me, the value that she adds to my life and how she helps make me a better person everyday.
The seventh essay, #7. “On Leverage”, was an attempt at finding focus, amidst a sea of possible paths. I began by reviewing my short and long term goals, and identifying the single activity that provides the most impact in each pillar of my life. Think of it like a Pareto Law to yourself.
The eighth essay, #8: “Letter to my 20-Year Old Self”, was about revisiting a crucial time in my past and defining the key lessons and takeaways from my university experience. Albeit with a certain confirmation bias, my lessons reflect my preferences. I gave myself the opportunity to congratulate myself for my efforts; as well as share some forward-looking advice for my future self.
The ninth essay, #9. “On Maker vs. Manager”, was about helping me wrestle with the emotional struggle between being an individual contributor and being a manager of others. I began by defining the jobs to be achieved by a maker and explained how these change and transform into the jobs to be achieved by a manager. I reminded myself that a manager’s job is to empower others and help them maximize the value they create for your customers.
This tenth essay, #10. “Why I Write? A 10-week Retrospective.” is about providing closure to a challenge begun 10 weeks ago. It is about discovering the intentions behind my writing and its impact on my development.
What have I learned from this experience?
Writing helps me tackle complex issues by breaking it down in the same way that one would decompose a complex problem into multiple subproblems, and solve each separately.
Writing calms me. Having a space to isolate myself with ‘myself’ is critical to increasing my mindfulness and allows me to tune into what’s really going on and how I am feeling.
Writing helps prepare. Writing barriers are the consequence of preconceptions, irrational notions of quality, and/or fear of failing or seeing ourselves in a lesser light. We must tackle writing in the same way that we tackle ‘taking a shower’ or ‘eating breakfast’; it is a necessary activity that helps prepare us, both physically and mentally, for the challenge and opportunities of the day to come.
Writing leads to discovery. Most of us believe that writing is about expressing a well-formulated idea or principle to others. The reality is that we can write as if we were having an informal and open conversation with ourselves. It can be messy. We can ramble.The goal is to use self-writing as a means of self-discovery.
Writing is progressive. Just like a muscle or a skill, we must write every day. The more we do it, the better we get at it. Deliberate practice requires writing and reading every day; sharing with our peers to get feedback and new ideas. You will have bad days. Don’t be discouraged. You may have great days. Trophy them. But don’t let your best days be your bar; for the goal is continuous improvement over the long term.
Will I continue writing? Sure thing. But I’ll hold back on the reflective, therapeutic essays for a while. Instead, I’ll focus my writing on sharing what I know and improving my ability to express technical knowledge. I’ll leverage writing as the ultimate medium for my learning projects.
Well, this has been incredibly fun.
Cheers till next time!
2 thoughts on “Why I Write? A 10-week Retrospective”
#3 was my favorite 🙂 Thank you for this. Ive actually started doing this myself for the last few months, its crazy how many reflections one can have during introspection. Keep writing and sharing!!
Also YES TO THIS: “When you work in process and programs like I do, you get accustomed to your own operating model. Not because of a demonstrated track record of success; but because we as humans are beings of habit. Routines are comfortable and predictable. Processes give us order and structure. But as I’ve said before, the world doesn’t work this way. If we desire to stay relevant and productive in an ever-changing world, we must also be ever-changing in our methods and approaches. We must continuously learn new concepts and innovate in our operating philosophies. Simply put, we must periodically re-invent ourselves.”
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