It took Lin-Manuel Miranda six years to write the lyrics to Hamilton, the Tony-sweeping musical sensation about America's first Treasury secretary.
Clearly, he took some inspiration from his prolific subject: Alexander Hamilton's story that inspired Miranda is, in itself, a lesson in using the written word to create change - in anything from personal circumstances to the fortunes of a nation.
As Miranda put it, he used his 'skill with the quill' to 'rise above his station.'
Here are three lessons from Hamilton himself, who, pen in hand, built the influence that helped him create support for the Revolutionary War, woo his wife, fend off extortionists, debate his legendary legion of detractors, and eventually fight to create the financial system we know today.
1. Write like you're running out of time, write day and night like you're running out of time
Writing for persuasion and influence is a volume game. You need a steady drumbeat of ideas to be visible and convincing on any important topic.
Hamilton, for instance, wrote 51 articles in support of the Constitution, in what is now known as the Federalist papers. These essays were published in various New York newspapers, and may have helped to get the Constitution ratified.
Similarly, Miranda wrote all the time to get the lyrics right for Hamilton. He wrote on the A train, while he was walking the dog and even while on vacation.
2. Put a pencil to your temple, connect it to your brain
If you want to stand out, the way to do it is to write with passion and plain language about your area of expertise. Call it the smart way to draw in smart people.
In Hamilton's case, after his Caribbean nation of St. Croix was wrecked by a hurricane, he wrote for the local newspaper to describe the anguish and destruction around him.
His neighbors were so moved they essentially underwrote a scholarship and trust to send him to New York and on to King's College (now Columbia University.) That commitment from his countrymen is especially incredible considering the storm ruined so many of them.
3. And the world's gonna know your name. What's your name, man?
Alexander Hamilton's writings caught the attention of Americans when, as a 17-year old student at King's, he published letters and essays debating Loyalists. The attention these letters brought helped him secure his commission in the continental army, eventually leading to him to a prominent role on General Washington's staff.
The style of the time was to write anonymously, though few people were fooled. Today you want to have your byline on everything you do. It gives people views into your thinking, the ability to trust your viewpoints and makes you visible with those that are looking for the benefit of what you know.
Write your way out
For further inspiration, here are lyrics Miranda wrote about how Hamilton's ability to write to build influence, starting with his rise from the aftermath of the hurricane of his youth:
I wrote my way out, wrote everything down far as I could see.
I wrote my way out.
I looked up and the town had its eyes on me. They passed a plate around.
Total strangers moved to kindness by my story.
Raised enough for me to book passage on a ship that was New York bound...I wrote my way out of hell.
I wrote my way to revolution. I was louder than the crack in the bell.
I wrote Eliza love letters until she fell.
I wrote about The Constitution and defended it well.
And in the face of ignorance and resistance, I wrote financial systems into existence.
And when my prayers to God were met with indifference, I picked up a pen, I wrote my own deliverance.