When you’re a start-up founder or an entrepreneur in general, you work under so much pressure that you need to find a way to get rid of the noise and focus on what matters.
It could be company targets, growing a team or achieving great results for a project you’re working on. You dread adding anything else to your plate: your partner, friends or family are already complaining about how much time you dedicate to them.
However, I’ve found that taking time out for reflection in the form of developing a regular writing routine can be extremely beneficial while you’re growing your business. It helps with everything from improved creativity and problem solving, to better stress and time management. While building Reedsy, I’ve met with a number of entrepreneurs, authors and bloggers about why they write and how it helps them to achieve success as part of a charity campaign we’re running called #IWriteBecause. Here are some of their top insights:
It helps you connect the dots and learn more
For many successful business leaders and founders, not only being knowledgeable but also being open to ongoing learning is essential. For David Heinemeier Hansson, co-founder of Basecamp and co-author of business books such as Remote and Rework, using writing as a tool to assimilate and increase knowledge is key. David says: “My preferred way to think through a topic or an idea is to commit it to paper. There’s always something new to learn, to understand, to digest and for me, doing that through writing is the best way.”
It encourages openness and honesty
Sometimes, it’s only when you write something down that you can really get to the heart of the matter - it encourages an openness and transparency that is truly refreshing. For example, two highly influential VC’s — Brad Feld from Foundry Group and Fred Wilson, co-founder of Union Square Ventures — both write and publish their thoughts on a daily basis about both personal and business observations. It’s how they share their opinions, interact with the start-up community and to some extent do their own therapy. They don’t shy away from difficult subjects so when something hurts or problems are encountered, they write about it.
It can wake up your creativity
Good ideas and the ability to solve problems are essential skills for making any project or venture a success and this is where regular writing can really help. Whether it’s working on a business-related blog post or something completely different such as a short story, writing can help you to wake up the creative side of your brain. An advocate of this idea, Hadi Partovi, founder of Code.org says: “Whether it’s writing stories or creating code, creativity and self-expression are critical to being human in our global and connected world.”
It reduces procrastination and cultivates discipline
Being too blinkered and focused in on the task at hand can sometimes mean you miss the big picture. Taking a step back to explore your thoughts and work through ideas via writing can be a great antidote to this. Often when I speak to fellow entrepreneurs about cultivating a regular writing habit, their response is ‘but I don’t have time’, to which I argue that even just taking 20 minutes out of the day to write and reflect could be highly beneficial. Plus, these minutes can generally be ‘borrowed’ from time spent flicking through social media accounts or other day-to-day distractions. It’s no different from a 20-minute workout or meditation session.
It enables you to connect with others and pass on knowledge
Some of the successful people I speak to who have managed to cultivate a regular writing habit prefer to keep their thoughts private (say, in a diary) while others see the benefit in getting their work ‘out there’ to share insights with the wider world. For them, writing can be a great way to connect with people to provide knowledge and entertainment, as well as spark conversation. Mark Dawson, the best-selling self-published author of the John Milton series, is a big believer in this concept: “At Christmas I receive cards from people I’ve never met who live in cities I’ve never visited before - in this way, writing enables me to reach out and connect with readers everywhere.”
It might even help you change the world
OK, so this last point might be a bit ambitious for everyone but I have certainly heard from many entrepreneurs and business leaders who have said that writing has enabled them to create real change and find success in a number of different ways (financial and otherwise). Putting an idea down in writing is a commitment and a transition from thought to action. As John Wood, former Microsoft Director of Business Development turned founder of the charity Room to Read, says: “I write because I love to give back to communities and talk as much as possible about how we can change the world through the power of books, literacy and writing.”