Sharpening Your Writing Saw

I found myself having a bit of fun this past weekend, as I got to watch history being made in my favorite industry–space exploration. Emotionally enjoying the success of SpaceX in expanding the capabilities of privately developed space vehicles, what enhanced the experience was taking the time to write about it. In my case, I was doing a “livecast,” posting comments on my personal Facebook page in my own, somewhat-less-techie, play-by-play recital of the action. My suggestion to you today is that you find a way to do the same.

Steven Covey, the late writer of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, called this practice “sharpening the saw.” This is a fanciful way of saying, “Seek continuous improvement and renewal professionally and personally.” For me, writing about space for fun is a form of renewal. It’s an opportunity to share my passion for the topic with people who normally wouldn’t pay attention to it.

Americans call it “geeking out.” I don’t mind. I’m also aware that not all my friends or family understand or care about space as much as I do. What I try to do is convey my excitement and explain what’s happening in words that don’t require a degree in aerospace engineering.

Some get interested. Some ask questions. Some pick up on my enthusiasm, which is really all I can ask. I invite my “space people” friends to offer up corrections in real time if I’ve gotten something wrong–and they can’t resist, they’re engineers–but I learn from the corrections, which I find enjoyable in itself.

What does this have to do with you, my blog readers? I’m simply suggesting that you find ways to employ your writing in ways that differ from your bill-paying writing. There are many options, from literature to plays to screenplays to poetry and songwriting. The benefit to you is that free-time writing shakes loose old habits and forces you to think about your craft in fresh and challenging ways. You might find new ways to make money or apply new insights to your bill-paying work.

So take some time this week to write more than your usual outputs. Put words down on paper or a screen that are for you alone. Your soul will thank you.

About Bart Leahy

Freelance Technical Writer, Science Cheerleader Event & Membership Director, and an all-around nice guy. Here to help.
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