The Power of Writing: How Writing can Transform Your Life

This is the 102th article of Life Written. It began in August 2014 simply because I wanted to write and share my writing with others. After 5 months, it has grown from a creative outlet to an personal development blog for young people, from a 80 readers per week to 2000 readers from all over the world every 7 days. Most importantly, it has brought to my life a sense of meaning and purpose, and it has become my own place for self-growth. It has changed my life. Writing now is not only my hobby, but also my vocation and devotion.

In this article, I share my thoughts on the transformational power of writing, and hopefully invite you to reflect and begin your own writing journey.

Writing Apparatus

Writing helps you to understand yourself. It is a very personal and intimate act. It is also utterly simple. A pen, a paper – or a computer if you must – and you. There is no big fancy machine or high tech gadget to entertain your monkey mind. There are only the nothingness of the blank page and you.

What’s most important in good writing is not elegant style of proses, not accuracy of grammars, not superb use of words, not even clarity of sentences and coherence of thoughts. Those are the things that you do your best to achieve, but they are not prerequisite. Here’s the most important thing: your writing is true to you.

What does that mean? It means that when you write, you reach deeply and pull out whatever it is inside you. From the words or images bubbling up on the surface of your psyche, to the emotions and thoughts and stories lurking in the far-end corners of your consciousness. Those deep stuff are suppressed by the judge of your fearful ego because it is always paranoid about its survival. But you want to get pass the fog of your ego and pull out whatever that is most true in the core of your being.

Sometimes when my writing is really cooking, I churn out something so daring, my ego shouts: “Oh No! You shouldn’t write like. Nobody thinks like that. People will hate you!”

Stop it! Just stop it! That daring stuff is you. It is who you are. Learn to accept it and love it. Among 8 billions other human beings crowding this earth, you are one of the kind. The world does not need your ego. The world needs you. So you write out every bit of you. Don’t filter. Don’t hold anything back. Pour out all of you, not what your ego want to be seen.

This is called the writing practice. Here you are the creator, not the editor. The creator is a child, and creativity is messy. But once you learn to do this, your writing practice will be full of vitality, originality, and truthfulness.


Writing helps you to create yourself. In other words, it is an incredible mechanism for personal growth.

When you write, you take in your inflow – an experience, a story, an insight, et al. – merge it with the existing materials inside you, and create the outflow. Like a silkworm, the process of eating green leaves and creating silk gives life to its existence, transforms it to a moth.

Writing is a superb way for you to entangle thoughts, to make sense of new experiences, to draw lessons and meanings. This is how you absorb new experiences and knowledge. They stop being something borrowed, and start being your own substance.

You don’t have to be perfectly clear about your point before you write. No good writer does it. The creative process of writing helps you to be clear. It will guide you. This is how I write. I sit down with a topic in mind “I want to write about how to strengthen human connection through the art of listening and looking deeply.” And I let myself go. At the end of the writing session, I always understand much more about the topic. The silkworm has grown a little more.

The reason I use the word “create yourself” above is that you make choices while you write – choices that reflect what you choose to be. I often say, half-jokingly, that my community of readers are those oddballs who care about stuff no other young person seems to care about. Here we dive into stuffs that are inextricably daily-life, and at the same time disturbingly deep. Love, money, courage, dream, passion, connection, authenticity… Our perspectives about these stuffs, when put under the light, shows who we are and what we are made of. It’s not like to choose between the blue dress and the red dress for dinner party. It is to define what does it means to be human.

For me, this is the most beautiful thing about Life Written. That I walk in there every morning for 4 hours of writing. In this 4 hours, I make choices like a main character in a movie. It’s easy to write with hatred and rage and egoistic rebellion. Negative energy is very strong and attractive. “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities," said Dumbledore.  Every single time, I choose goodness and love.


Finally, writing helps you to achieve clarity of thoughts and words. Clear writing means clear thinking. Fuzzy writing signals fuzzy thinking. Mortimer J. Adler in his legendary book How to Read a Book wrote:

The person says he knows what he thinks but cannot express it usually does not know what he thinks.

While fuzzy thinking obviously leads to fuzzy writing, clarity of thoughts does not guarantee clarity of words. This is a skill worth spending a lifetime to master.

The difference between a leader and a maniac is the ability to communicate. Adolf Hitler used words to create the most destructive movement in humankind’s history. Mahatma Gandhi used words to drop purifying ripples on the water table of humanity. Though Hitler and Gandhi are now placed at the opposite extremes, they both had crazy stuff going on in their head, did not end up in asylums, and changed the world instead.

Our highly-connected modern world is flooded with status updates, messages, emails, articles, online profiles, et al. “More than ever before, the currency of our social and cultural lives in the written word,” remarked Steven Pinker in The Sense of Style.

As mentioned above, the creative process of writing helps you to digest, understand. This ultimately brings clarify of thoughts. To transform clarity of thoughts to clarity of words, we need the editorial process.

This is when stop being a child and start being samurai. With a sharp sword and a cold head, you learn to cut through the hazy part of your writing: remove, explain, give example, or change the order. In this editorial process, you will also improve grammars, words, style and coherence. You learn to keep both your truth – the point you are making – and your readers in mind.

Be mindful of your authentic voice, and don’t let the samurai be scorned by your ego. Don’t get confused between the two. Ego is afraid and tries to hide itself, because it sees the world as threat. Samurai dares to expose himself, he steps forward despite fears.

Did I mention writing feels great? Perhaps this is the biggest benefit and the most legitimate reason to write.


There are moments when I am writing when I think that if other people knew how I felt right now, they’d burn me at the stake for feeling so good, so  full, so much intense pleasure.

Anne Lamott exclaims so in her wonderful writing guide book Bird by Bird. I feel the same. If you stop resisting and allow yourself the intense pleasure of reaching in deeply and expressing fully, you will be filled with a vitality you did not know of. This vitality will make you see the world differently, and make you more alive than the others. This is an artist’s life.

You don’t need permission to be an artist or a writer – you become writer by writing. But in case you still feel you need, here it is.

Let’s begin.