I should take my own advice. I drafted that title and planned this blog post with much self-awareness (and guilt…) that writing regularly is what I haven’t been doing. Well, not on this blog at least! I’ve been occupied with my practice, planning and teaching courses, and all of the wonderful – and challenging – life stuff that has happened over the past few months. The point remains, though: writing consistently (and diversely) makes a huge difference in your overall skill as a wordsmith and effectiveness in written advocacy.
Putting pen to page sometimes feels like the most daunting task in your day. Even when you have all the evidence in front of you, all of your arguments planned out, typing the first word of those submissions can be really tough; drafting that letter to opposing counsel seems a mountain; writing that policy report is just not something you’re ready to think about yet. Which is funny because I think lawyers’ most common and important skill is writing. So why does it loom so large, even when we’re supposed experts in it?
So why does it loom so large, even when we’re supposed experts in it?
Well, the answer is pretty obvious: it’s hard. It might be the most recurrent activity, but I’d argue it is also one of the most difficult.
I think there is also something to be said for how many other smaller, more instantaneous tasks take up time so that the biggie, writing, is easily pushed to the back burner. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels like emails and follow up calls could take a full day if I let it. I find myself wanting a larger chunk of time to write – yet it never really comes!
I’ve found that writing regularly, however, makes the job easier and more fluid. And, I should add, writing regularly outside of work, in small chunks, makes it even better. Whether it’s a journal, a blog post, or a creative writing project, exploring words for your own pleasure changes the feeling towards the task. It also amplifies and stretches your skill to go beyond its normal limits.
While in India, I took to writing for an hour each morning. About nothing and everything. Whatever I wanted or felt like that day. Granted, I was surrounded by inspiration at every turn while living in such a rich, textured country. Still, I have vowed to return to the practice now, even in a life that looks a bit more familiar and less ‘new’ than it did a few months ago because the result was fantastic: my imagination flexed, my words became more limber – in the law context and outside of it – and I had a lot of fun.
On the first day of a new month, I pose this challenge to you: write at least one paragraph, just for yourself, every day for the next 30 days. Write about whatever you want. To publish or to remain yours.
See what happens.
You might be surprised. And your client might be happy with the results, too!