Writing can be a hobby. It can be a job. It can also be a useful tool for helping others — and yourself.
One thing I noticed early on in my writing was that the more I wrote about a certain subject, the more I knew about — and often the more I liked — that subject.
I didn’t study biology by reading over my notes and reading my textbooks. I studied by writing about everything I was supposed to know for an exam, in essay format. Almost as if the purpose of writing everything down was to inform someone else about everything I had learned.
That’s how I fell in love with science, and eventually became a health writer.
My job forces me to not only keep up with current health trends, but also to fully understand everything related to health science. And I think this can apply to any subject, whether it be cars or sports, knitting or cats. The more you plan, research, and write, the more you know — and the more others will know from reading your (hopefully) thoroughly evidence-based and informative writing.
If you’re someone who wants to make a difference in the world, and you’re good at/you enjoy writing, this is one way to set off chain reactions of change. People are looking for information. You can use your ability to effectively communicate that information to your advantage.
That doesn’t mean your work will always be appreciated, or that it will reach everyone you hope to reach. It doesn’t mean there will still be people out there who don’t write informatively with good intentions — and those who choose to follow their words instead of yours.
But you also have to remember that sometimes, it’s OK to write for yourself. It’s OK to write about subjects others might not be fully interested in, just so you can learn and retain more information. It’s not selfish — it’s just something that makes you happy. Instead of saying, “I don’t understand this,” you can do the research, you can read and study enough to write a well-constructed piece about it. Whether you end up publishing that or not, it’s pretty much a guarantee you’ll have a better grasp on that topic by the end of it all than many people around you ever will.
Don’t write about something unless you legitimately understand it. And if you don’t, do the research necessary to change that. People will always find ways to argue with you, no matter how credible or informed you are. But for every person who refuses to change their beliefs based on facts, there are many more who have been looking for information that can help them make better choices.
As I always say, you never know who you might be helping. Just because hundreds of people don’t praise your work doesn’t mean thousands aren’t benefiting from it in some way. Use your writing to get the best possible information out there, when and where you can. It can, and will, make a difference.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.