For Day 9 of 30 Days of Summer, I want to reflect on how the past two weeks of writing have impacted me.
First, it’s made me more observant of day-to-day experiences. Having to write every day, even on weekends when I might not deep-dive on any topic (which is the typical source of content for my writing), forces me to pay attention to each moment. I never know where a good story will come from. I was talking to my friend about my writing on Day 6, where I wrote about my nephew’s reflections on teaching swimming, and my friend pointed out the role that being observant had played in that article; in another situation, someone could have invalidated what the child was saying because of their young age, or been distracted or lost in thought (as I have been several times in the past). Another situation where I experienced such observance was last night at my favorite pizzeria in San Francisco. Looking at my transaction history, I’ve eaten here at least 15 times, but I’ve never noticed as much as I did yesterday - such as the way the pizza maker took out round pre-prepared molds of dough and spun it on the counter with his hands, like a washing machine, then punched the dough to remove trapped air, like a masseuse, then lifted the flattened dough and slowly traversed its circumference, widening the pizza, and then patted it further, before adding the toppings and transferring it to the oven.
Another benefit of writing I’ve noticed is an ability to think more clearly and communicate a clear message. I realized this when I published a video instead of writing for yesterday’s daily update. While talking with a friend, I realized that I would have never published the transcript of that video as a writing piece in itself - the narrative and content was too bad for that. Then why was I okay publishing as video? I think this has to do with (1) writing as a culture, and (2) writing as a medium. For (1), there is a culture that the written word must be high-quality, which stands in contrast to the culture of the spoken word. People speak illogical and poorly-phrased things all the time, but have a higher bar for writing. As for (2), the medium of writing is such that you have a surprisingly large amount of freedom to edit what you have written. For example, I could start making an argument and decide I’m not convinced by what I’m trying to say, and choose to make the opposite argument instead. Or, while writing, I might really like one idea and choose to move it to the top of the article, making it the focus. Contrast this with the process of making a video, where once you record a part, you are constrained to only move forward, or else start over. Edits are higher effort. The ‘editability’ of writing makes it suited for iteration and improvement.
There’s a lot more to say, but I’ll end by linking two articles on writing that I really like:
You might also want to check out Homework for Life, in which a professional storyteller recommends to write one story every day. People have claimed they found this practice life-changing.
Until next time!