By Greg Borzo


I write for the money. For the fun of it. For the glory. Ha!

In fact, I write to better understand the world. People, including me, can say anything. And we do. But when we say something we often mix up the facts, muddle the waters, express incomplete thoughts and leave a vague trail of words that are open to misinterpretation.

When we write something, however, we’re more careful and precise because we know that the written word takes on a life of its own and will be subject to scrutiny, analysis and criticism – as well as that most painful of all reviewers, an editor with a sharp red pencil!

Therefore, when we write something and submit it to the world, we have to be more careful and deliberate, that we are thinking straight. We need to be sure that we have the facts right (in the case of nonfiction) and our descriptions vivid and our story engaging (in the case of fiction).

To accomplish this, writers need to research topics, ferret through documents, attack related subjects, eavesdrop on conversations and/or sleuth life itself. This is how writing helps me better understand the world. The decision to write something – anything from a letter to a journal, from a report to a term paper, from a novel to a nonfiction book – forces me to study, research and learn. To stop, look and listen.

A hallowed piece of advice says, “Write what you know,” but I prefer this corollary: “Write what you want to know.” Once writers choose a topic that we want to know more about or a story line that we want to explore, we begin to gather new information, travel to new places, get the feel for new time periods, appreciate other points of view, learn about new industries, empathize with others and master new concepts. In short order, we can take ourselves back to the Sixties or into the mind of a painter. Or we can figure out how a peloton works. Or why mass transit works in some places but not others. Sure, money and fame are great, but such discoveries—findings that form the base knowledge, the foundation, upon which we build our writing—represent a rich, unheralded reward of writing.

In short, writing will help you better understand the world—whether you write about facts or feelings, history or hilarity, business or the birds and the bees.

So, take the lunge; crack that thin ice you’re standing on; work up a sweet; never look slack. All aboard the keyboard! All will be revealed in the end. (Ugh! Now, where’s that editor?)


Greg Borzo is author of Chicago’s Fabulous Fountains