“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” —Anaïs Nin
Six years ago, I started a blog. And writing has remained a constant in my life ever since. Prior to starting Becoming Minimalist, I had done very little writing—a few articles for a company newsletter, but that’s about it. But these days, I try to write something new every day.
Two weeks ago, I sent in a manuscript for a new book, Only What Matters: The Life-Giving Benefits of Owning Less. The book will be released in December, just in time for Christmas. It is the most comprehensive introduction and explanation of minimalism I have ever written. I am really excited for you to see it—we’ve got some fun things planned this year.
Because of the book’s deadline, I have spent the last six weeks almost entirely immersed in the writing process (a gracious thank-you to the guest bloggers who filled in some of the gaps for me). Looking back, the focused writing time has caused me to appreciate the process even more—not just because of a finished manuscript, but because of what writing has meant to me on a personal level.
It has changed me.
Writing has forced discipline in my life. More than I ever expected, writing requires discipline. The past six years have involved countless early mornings and late nights. Most writers will attest to that fact. Writing requires the discipline to sit quietly on a chair, alone in a room with a blank page. All writing begins there.
Writing has provided opportunity to refine opinions. Dawson Trotman once said, “Thoughts disentangle themselves when they pass through the lips and the fingertips.” He was right. Writing has required me to both understand and articulate my opinions. It has forced me to research my assumptions, defend them, and change when necessary.
Writing has prompted intentionality. Writing requires observation. And observation almost always leads to intentionality. Once I began writing about life and the thoughts that shape it, I began to think more intentionally about who I was becoming—and whether that was consistent with what I desired most.
Writing has made me more comfortable with my life’s journey. Recently, the New York Times published new research that seems to indicate writing—and then rewriting—your personal story can lead to behavioral changes and improved happiness. Among other reasoning, one argument is that writing helps us better understand our unique narrative and find deeper meaning in our trouble and suffering. After writing consistently for six years and experiencing this effect, I agree.
Writing has provided accountability. I chose to write publicly and have brought expectation upon myself because of it. In fact, the last time I posed for a selfie with a reader, she asked, “So do you really live out everything you write?” Even a private journal provides accountability. As we script our story, we find accountability—not to the written word, but to ourselves. We see how far we’ve come, how much we have left to accomplish, and why giving up now would be foolish.
Writing has increased my passion for the message. For six years, I have written about the benefits of owning less. Some days, I feel like I could write for six more. As I do, I continue to see how owning less holds benefit for all. Through readers’ comments and personal emails, I experience again the life-changing impact of this simple message: There is more joy to be found in owning less than we can ever discover pursuing more.
I have experienced other benefits for sure. Writing has given me a platform to share my message and has provided me the freedom to pursue it entirely. But still, the greatest change is the change that has occurred within me. I experienced each of them well before this blog had any regular readers.
There are important reasons to write. I recommend it often.