When you write, everything that comes across your path becomes an invitation to test and consider your working thesis from a different angle. Every article. Every news story. Every ‘new thing’ you stumble upon along the way beckons you to play in a mental sandbox — a place to triangulate the ideas of your writing with different knowledge, people, and events. A place to experiment. A place to build castles and to knock them over. A place to reckon with the incongruity between what you experience and what you know already.
Writing is an opportunity to think about life through a particular and ever evolving lens. It is in this sense that writing itself becomes something of a ‘way of life’… which is one reason, I suppose, why authors write in the first place: it is their way of being. To write is to think, to learn: to exist.
For myself, the best part of writing is consciously carrying around a malleable set of propositions and noting how the experiences of real life inform, tint, reinforce, and contradict them. To be a writer is to hold a concept intimately close while simultaneously exposing it to the harshest elements. Of course, everyone experiences this to some extent, but writers, by nature of the fact they write things down, chronicle the evolution.
Whether or not one successfully ‘publishes’ as a result of this practice is quite secondary. This is not about book contracts and readership: this is about a way of life. You should be gathering, organizing, and developing your knowledge on the topics you care about most, as if you are conducting the research for your magnum opus. Build your archives and give definitive (albeit tentative) shape to the schematics of your understanding: then, as you move through the world, you will be able to bring everything you come across into the ‘mental laboratory’ of your mind for analysis and investigation.
Writing is a way of life, a way of being.