I have been writing online for ten years.
I'm an author, a columnist, 3x Top Writer on Quora with over 20M views, viral blogger, and founder of Digital Press, a ghostwriting agency for executives.
But if someone were to ask me, "Why do you write?" I wouldn't answer with any of the above. I wouldn't cite my credentials or talk about the things I've achieved.
I write to understand myself. And, for some reason for another, share that process out in the open.
Here's why I suggest all my entrepreneur friends do the same:
Over the past few years, I can say (with humility) that I've turned probably 50+ people on to the habit of writing online. I've brought dozens of friends and acquaintances to Quora. I've taught them my "secret recipe" for writing viral content. I've watched them write their own viral articles, get republished in major publications, and end up attracting incredible opportunities for themselves--all through writing online.
But when I ask them what they enjoy most about the process (usually a few months down the road), they don't cite those accomplishments as the main driver. Just like I don't cite mine as what drives me.
Instead, they say the following:
"I've come to love writing because it helps me understand what I'm thinking or trying to say."
And that's the point.
People who write (a lot) reap the following rewards:
When you write, especially out in the open--I don't mean in the safety of your apartment where no one can see you--then you learn how to take all those jumbled thoughts sloshing around your head and pour them out in a coherent and interesting stream.
1. Writers can speak. If you can write it, you can say it. You can explain it. You can walk in a room, and the timbre of your voice rings true. People know you aren't putting on an act or trying to "sell" them on something. In fact, you don't have to sell them. It's clear you know what you're talking about just by the amount of passion in your voice.
2. Writers can hear. When you are forced to write it, you learn to hear things differently. You listen with fresh ears in every conversation, because you start to imagine each piece of insight as its own sentence or even article. And most of all, you can hear the difference between people who know what they're talking about, and those that don't.
3. Writers can inspire. Holding someone's attention with words on a page is one of the most difficult things you can do--especially in today's attention-stressed society. But in forcing yourself to take all those different thoughts of yours and compress them down to coherent sentences, you learn how to let go of all the unimportant stuff and just get to the point.
I encourage every single person I come into contact with to write online. Not because I think they should become writers themselves, but because it will force them to think through their most silent ideas.
It's a challenge to sit down to write. It's even more of a challenge to ask yourself, "Is this what I really mean? Is this really what I want to say?"
But I'm telling you--just like I tell every single one of my friends--if you can practice out in the open, on the Internet, you will find yourself more confident and coherent in any business pitch, any client meeting, any social situation where someone says to you, "Explain. Tell me what you mean."
Writing is a training exercise.
And as soon as you begin, you will feel more confident than ever about who you are, what you do, and what it is you want to share with the world.