Seven Reasons to Write for the SharperIron Writing Contest

1. You have opinions. There’s got to be something a lot of people are mixed up about. You could set them straight.

“Devise, wit; write, pen; for I am for whole volumes in folio.” (William Shakespeare, Love’s Labour’s Lost. Act i. Sc. 2.)

2. Tradition. You have a chance to participate in the grand, ancient tradition of rhetoric: persuasive verbal communication.

“An essayist is a lucky person who has found a way to discourse without being interrupted.” (Charles Poore)

“To hold a pen is to be at war.” (Voltaire)

3. It’s good for your brain (and better yet—your mind). Writing forces you to think more clearly than you would otherwise have to. You have to look at how ideas relate to one another and to your overall message. Though writing doesn’t always cure muddled thinking, it always leads to less-muddled thinking.

“Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man.” (Francis Bacon)

“What no wife of a writer can ever understand is that a writer is working when he’s staring out the window.” (Burton Rascoe)

“How do I know what I think until I see what I say?” (E. M. Forster)

4. Life is short. Written ideas have a far longer useful lifespan than spoken ones. Rather than being heard and quickly forgotten, your ideas can become part of a conversation that continues for years. Others can build their ideas on yours. On the Internet in particular, your thoughts can be linked to or easily quoted, then discussed and discussed again.

It is therefore necessary that memorable things should be committed to writing…and not wholly betaken to slippery memory which seldom yields a certain reckoning. (Sir Edward Coke)

It may be glorious to write
Thoughts that shall glad the two or three
High souls, like those far stars that come in sight
Once in a century. (James Russell Lowel. An Incident in a Railroad Car)

5. Fundamentalists don’t write enough.

“Look, then, into thine heart, and write!” (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Voices of the Night. Prelude.)

“The desire to write grows with writing.” (Erasmus)

6. Bills. You could make some money. Last year, we gave away several hundred dollars to contest winners. This year, we hope to give away even more to even more winners. But you can’t win if you don’t write.

“A man may write at any time if he will set himself doggedly to it.” (Samuel Johnson)

“Sir, no man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money.” (Samuel Johnson)

7. Feedback. Publishing your writing in an interactive forum can help you identify weaknesses in your views or weaknesses in how you’re communicating them. In biblical terms: putting your thoughts in writing creates an opportunity to be shaped by your fellow believers in a more specific, enduring—and perhaps humbling—way.

“Only the hand that erases can write the true thing.” (Johannes Eckhart)

Read more about this year’s contest.

(The quotations here were drawn from Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, Respectfully Quoted, Geary’s Guide to the World’s Great Aphorists and Peter’s Quotations: Ideas for Our Time.)

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