Writing isn't something that only writers do. It's a basic skill for getting through life. We write to explain, and we write to explore. When explaining, we also help clarify concepts to ourselves. When we explore, we push the boundaries of what we know and think about – changing the way our minds work.
Writing is a form of thinking – it's “thinking on paper” and anybody who thinks clearly should be able to start writing clearly about any subject.
But many people are afraid of writing – of communicating private thoughts publicly – because we're not sure our private thoughts are valid. But if we’re able to embrace the vulnerability, then we can find a way to wrestle with any topic and gain more confidence and mastery.
Explaining and exploring concepts, from the scientific to the social, can be an exciting way to learn more and crystallize our understanding into a lasting artifact. At any time, we can pick a topic that we don't know much about – like cryptocurrency or the tort law system – and write about it until we have a clearer picture. We can even take different sides of a debate and explore new perspectives (maybe from an anonymous account if we want it to be public).
Writing isn't the hard part of this. The hard part is the vulnerable voyage into the self, as we clarify and challenge our thinking as we express it with real words. Our goal should just be to say things that are true, as simply as we can. We should start by figuring out what a novice should know about a topic, and then communicate that before moving on to the next thing. Word by word, this can compound into a book or a larger article that can even prove an advanced grasp of a topic, and be genuinely educational to others.
In a world where written content production seems so cheap (even computers can generate it now), we shouldn’t give ourselves more reasons not to write. The activity of writing is fundamental to civilization and it’s how we make intellectual progress together.
Here are some tips to start writing to learn:
Since Mirror launched Writing NFTs, we could think of Mirror as a place to “write-to-earn”. But I really love seeing people in the community writing to learn. We can all become better thinkers and communicators by improving our thinking through writing.
When we write to learn, we find out what we think and want to say, and how our views are different from others. This even makes us better conversationalists! I can’t imagine a more worthwhile thing in life than to improve thinking, knowledge, and conversation. It improves every interaction, and it lasts our entire lives.