Sometimes I get tired of writing all this stuff.
The Internet is full of it. So is your Medium homepage. It’s everywhere. Articles about personal development, life advice, “if you want to get this, do this” stuff. Even though I constantly try to bring my thoughts, reflections, and life experiences to what I write, sometimes I wonder what the point is.
Sometimes I get tired of writing all this. After all, I’m no one. Just a French writer with a degree in journalism and photography.
But then, I remember why I started in the first place. I started writing because I couldn’t not write. And the first ideas that came to me, the first ideas that still come to me, are about all this self-development stuff. And there’s a reason for that. The same reason that keeps me creating day after day.
Why do you read novels?
At some point in my life, which coincides roughly with the time I discovered self-help books, I began to find novels irrelevant. Yet I grew up sitting on the couch in my room, devouring one novel after another. But I didn’t see the point anymore. I was focused on growing. Becoming the best version of myself. Novels appeared like a distraction.
One day, however, I missed the calming power of reading novels. Entering another world, and letting it carry you further and further into your own imagination as it interprets and paints on the wall of your head the words put there by someone in another time and space. That’s when it hit me.
Novels are not useless at all. They can be more powerful than self-help books. When you read a novel, you get a glimpse into someone else’s life. The characters are facing problems and find a way out. It’s the embodiment, the illustration of all those arbitrary rules you read in nonfiction. What better way to understand than with examples?
Paradoxically, this is why I keep writing personal development. I base my writing on my experience. I am my own character. As long as a human being keeps their wholeness, their uniqueness, each one of them can write an article on the same subject while making it different. Because you, them, and I, we all have different backgrounds, which means we look at things in a slightly or radically different way.
I don’t write “self-help.”
I could do listicles. Scour the Internet and summarize five articles on the same subject in one. I’m not interested in that. Instead, I prefer to take situations from my own life and do my best to extract the juice from them. That’s why sometimes it gets tiring. Exhausting. I have to look my own mess in the eye, and at the same time find the “positive” in it and take a life lesson from it. I try to look at what is happening to me objectively, with some excruciating distance, and put it into words afterward.
Writing is my way of learning. Writing is my way of understanding things. To grow. I write to acknowledge everything that happens to me, more than to set myself up as a “teacher” which I am absolutely not.
One might think I’m a know-it-all. I don’t. I’m just someone trying to figure out life, and I probably learn as much from writing about my personal experiences as I do from actually living them.
The Bottom Line
When you put words to something, you distance yourself from it. Direct transmission from your brain and heart to your fingers holding the pen. Suddenly, it’s like reading a novel, where the main character is no one else but you.
This is the best way I’ve found so far to learn and grow. I don’t teach others. I teach myself and share the results of my work.
Try it when you have time. Stop reading self-help books for a little while and do some writing. Even if you don’t publish it. Just try to make the most of the last thing that happened to you. See what lessons you could learn that could benefit others. Then write them down, in a concise, structured work. As if you wanted someone else to understand.
Then, use the lesson yourself. That’s the ultimate growth trick.