By Jack Cumming

Are you a writer? To judge by appearances, fewer and fewer of us are taught the joys and benefits of writing. What does it mean to be a writer in an age in which there are not only very few writers but almost no readers either? We live in an age of easy.

Writing for Wealth

This came to mind recently when I was reading a historical-biographical tale of a wealthy family. Not surprisingly, not only are they wealthy, but they are also all writers. The book is John Rothchild’s The Davis Dynasty: Fifty Years of Successful Investing on Wall Street. It’s about the family and descendants of Shelby Cullom Davis, whom you may remember as a onetime ambassador to Switzerland.

The founder of the family dynasty published a weekly investment review for his clients and others. Later, the task of that ritualized writing was passed down to his grandson. One day the grandson confronted his grandfather. “Why do we bother with this,” he asked, “when nobody reads it?” The rejoinder was swift: “It’s not for the readers. It’s for us. We write it for ourselves. Putting ideas on paper forces you to think things through.”

Writing for Success

There’s a bucketful of wisdom in that simple exchange. Successful people are readers, and they are writers. That’s especially true in a world of reduced literacy. Why do some people find unbelievable success, while others flounder as wage slaves in a job with no future?

Those others are often looking for the easy, royal road to riches, while the few are constantly learning and thinking, and honing their thinking by writing about it, which causes them to question their own best thinking, leading to new insights, new breakthroughs, new realities, a better world for others, and the rewards that come with success.

Writing Is Central

So it is with Senior Living Foresight. The best information is to be found in the written articles. Do you have the skill and grit to read those articles, and to let those articles inspire you to take your thinking to a new level? There is no better education than to make a habit of thoughtful reading and writing.

Andrew Carnegie, who worked continuously from age 14, realized the importance of reading, thinking, and writing. He elevated libraries as sanctuaries for self-education. He became a very wealthy man.

Unlearning School

This brings us to the unlikely topic of suggesting that you unlearn much of what you were taught in school. Did you ever receive back a graded school paper covered with red ink that labeled you as a grammatical failure? Did you let that dissuade you from loving writing and learning? Not only are graded student papers harmful to learning the love of writing, teachers also hate the grading process. It ought to be stopped. Get the horror of that red ink out of your mind. It was never warranted.

Abraham Lincoln spent no more than a month or so in school. He taught himself by reading (mostly the Bible since that was at hand), writing, and speaking. No red ink for him unless he put it there himself. He loved to preach, and he would gather his school chums around him and entertain them with his rhetoric.

It’s Not Rocket Science

Let’s substitute a little common sense for what you may have been taught. To begin, there’s no point in reading what you won’t remember. You’re not a word processor. Be more than a machine. If you’re so bored that you’re only reading to process the words, then stop.

If a boss orders you to read a lesson, take a pad and skim the reading for the key points; write them down, and memorize them; then go back and reread the lesson quickly to see if you now know it. Don’t ever waste your time over-reading.

If you are reading for information or to improve your understanding, as we hope you do when you read Senior Living Foresight, then read with skepticism. Do you agree with the author? If not, make a note of why not. That give-and-take is the essence of learning. Does the author’s thinking take you to a new level beyond the author? Write that too. You’ll soon be wiser than any of your colleagues.

Reading to Write

Reading can always lead to writing unless you’re just reading a racy story to kill time on a long flight. That can be equivalent to hours of FreeCell, though racy reading will better enhance your vocabulary and stir your libido. As people who keep diaries know, regular writing helps your thinking. Does what you wrote yesterday make sense today? If not, it’s time for rewriting.

Do you want to stand out? Then you should always be writing about work and how it might be better. You don’t have to show your writing to anyone. It can be your private, secret friend. Still, when you reach that point of writing, thinking, rewriting, rethinking, and on and on, you’ll reach an understanding at which you know that what you’ve written can help others, too, to do better.

Going Public

When you reach that point, submit your writing to an editor, and try to find a home for it. You aren’t there to make yourself special. You’re there to help others do better. And that is a noble calling. With your message now honed, written, and rewritten, accept every speaking engagement you can get.

Start with the Toastmasters club near you, or with Rotary. The more you share your insights, the greater the clarity that you will give to your writing and speaking. With clarity comes success. You can count on that.