Reasons to Put Pen to Paper: Four Ways Good Writing Improves Productivity

“You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.” –Octavia E. Butler, American novelist.

Some perceptive 20th century writer—some say Hemingway, others sportswriter Red Smith —once claimed writing is easy: you just sit down at the typewriter and bleed. That may be true for some writers, especially those new to the game, but I have to wonder if whoever said it did it mainly to discourage the competition. Because frankly, anyone who reads often and widely can become a decent writer. And as with everything else, all it takes to become a great writer is the old how-do-you-get-to-Carnegie Hall punchline: Practice, practice, practice.

This assumes you learn as you write. If you never learn from mistakes, you’ll never get better. If you do, and if you take note of how other writers hook the reader and drag them in, you can become a more engaging, more productive writer and worker. While there are many more, here are four reasons to sharpen your writing skills:

  1. It helps you organize your thoughts. Writing (especially when you do a brain dump) clears your mind of clutter and helps you pin down those wonderful but evasive ideas that occasionally flit across your mindscape. Plus, half the battle of defeating the tyrannical blank space is deciding how you’ll write something. Once you’ve marshalled your ideas in your head, you can spill them out onto paper (real or electronic) much more easily, and then reorganize them as needed.

  2. It helps you internalize knowledge. When you write something, you’re paying specific attention to it, so you’re more likely to remember it later. You’ve added it to your mental “knowledge bank,” and once it’s there, it may very well cross-reference with other facts and spark new ideas. It’s certainly easier to retain. I’ve heard of college students who deliberately write out the salient points of all their readings in longhand, despite the extra time and effort required, just so it will stick in their memory. The same can work for you—and typing it into your computer works just as well. Ultimately, you become wiser as you internalize new knowledge, and ideally, understand yourself and the world a little more.

  3. You communicate with greater clarity. Your written communications become easier to understand. You need not repeat yourself as often, because there’s less confusion on the part of others. You write things more quickly—whether it’s a new procedure or an email—and others can absorb the concepts more easily. The time you save yourself and others might seem minimal, but like time wasted, it builds up.

  4. It accelerates the writing process. If you do a lot of writing in a particular field (such as productivity), eventually it becomes much easier to write authoritatively on the subject. That results in more time-saving. Those writer’s block moments, when it feels like you’re pulling teeth just to get the words out, become less common. I know that after writing articles like these for years, I can do it much more quickly than I used to. It still takes plenty of research and reading, but the writing itself goes much faster. Even better, as my knowledge base increases and cross-fertilization occurs, I get more unique ideas and invent new solutions to share with my readers.

Write from the Start

I believe advanced writing skills sharpen your focus, help you make better decisions, and even feel happier. All these contribute to your productivity at work. I typically tell people not to bother with their weaknesses—to work on maximizing their strengths instead. But writing is an exception. The better you can write, the more productive you’ll be. Period, end of article.

About Laura Stack, your next keynote speaker:

© 2019 Laura Stack. Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, CPAE is an award-winning keynote speaker, bestselling author, and noted authority on employee and team productivity. She is the president of The Productivity Pro, Inc., a company dedicated to helping leaders increase workplace performance in high-stress environments. Stack has authored eight books, including FASTER TOGETHER: Accelerating Your Team’s Productivity (Berrett-Koehler 2018). She is a past president of the National Speakers Association, and a member of its exclusive Speaker Hall of Fame (with fewer than 175 members worldwide). Stack’s clients include Cisco Systems, Wal-Mart, and Bank of America, and she has been featured on the CBS Early Show and CNN, and in the New York Times. To have Laura Stack speak at an upcoming meeting or event, call 303-471-7401 or contact us online.

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