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    Writing for Change

    Wednesday, December 31, 2014
    To Do's

    One of the best things about human beings is their capacity for change.

    Sometimes change comes dramatically, from a sudden insight, an “Aha” moment that gives everything after a totally different perspective.

    Sometimes it comes slowly, laboriously, the intentional development of a new habit and just as intentional avoidance of an old one.

    As a writer, I encounter something similar to both pretty much daily: whether it’s in a sudden inspiration that rushes me to the keyboard to get an idea down while the vision is fresh, or the slow accumulation of details to flesh out a chapter, and then another, and another, until the whole picture comes into focus.

    But writing can be more than a way of simply recording change. It can be a powerful tool for effecting change. For example, I recall facing a few decisions in college so tough that only a pro-and-con list could see me through. As I jotted down details in each column, the decision took shape, until the conclusion seemed inevitable. By the same token, sometimes writing a journal entry, or a letter to a friend (even if it is never sent), brings things into focus so that we can move forward.

    In business, of course, we write reports and plans and analyses, not merely to defend a course of action, but more importantly to decide on one. Business writing brings clarity and focus to our endeavors.

    At this time of year, it is traditional to make a list of resolutions for the coming months. I encourage you to write your resolutions down. Then prioritize them. And as you accomplish each in the coming year, check it off. Treat your resolutions as a to-do list (or even as a bucket list), and they’re more likely to be achieved.

    Let the power of your writing, even in this simple way, help you take advantage of our shared human capacity for change.

    Best wishes in the coming year.

    —Lester Smith