As published on The Mom Forum July 2017
I love reading. Reading essays from students talk about their ambitions and dreams is especially uplifting. It gives me hope for the future. But more often than not, I end up with a different feeling of hope. I hope to help more people recognize why writing is so vital for life success, long after college admissions.
1. Writing is a life long success skill.
No matter what career you choose, you will need to communicate well. Written communication is key for today’s business world where emails pile up into our inbox every minute. More directly, writing essays will be required in college as in high school, as well as later in the form of cover letters or reports for work. All of us need this skill. Even policeman need to write incident reports!
2. Writing helps you organize your thoughts.
Being able to answer a question, succinctly and clearly is vital for life success. The answer may be written or spoken, but the difference is just in the medium: on paper vs. words. Many successful people I have studied, and especially those I’ve been lucky enough to be mentored by, write brief emails that motivate and empower. I used to think I need to write a novel to be clear, through and understood. As I have progressed in the corporate world, at a time of twitter and my very own generation X, I have seen our attention span shrink. You have to be able to speak (college admissions or job interviews) clearly and follow your thoughts in a logical fashion and writing not only gives you the perfect opportunity to see how your thoughts evolve, but it gives you the opportunity to practice getting better at both speaking and writing.
3. Writing helps you process your feelings.
There is no healthier and cheaper way that writing or journaling to process what is going on. Recently, neuroscience has backed up the benefits of journaling and writing, as one way of removing the emotions attached to certain thoughts. If we get our kids to write and develop this skill for life, we will be helping them develop good emotional hygiene while also saving a lot of time and money on therapy later. I know that’s a tall promise, but I’m speaking from experience.
I know many parents want their kids to win scholarships, and writing well is one of the means to do that. But thinking like this makes it a chore, or a checkmark that needs to be done. I’d like to flip the order in the logic. Writing well will open up doors far more than just college admission and winning a few college scholarships. It’s a life long skill with the biggest reward of all being internal: the person writing expressing what he/she thinks, believes and feels.
There is nothing more empowering than expressing oneself.
I’d love to hear more about your experience with writing. What are some instances where you really wished you wrote better? (and have you shared them with your kids?)