A week from now, National Novel Writing Month begins, which endeavor challenges its participants to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. Success requires writing 1,667 words a day.

Many people, mostly non-writers, ask why in the world anyone would want to do such a thing.

For me, the answer is that NaNoWriMo represents a chance to establish a daily writing habit or to exercise a habit already established. To be a successful writer, one has to write, and the most successful writers do so every day. And, I believe that intelligent people write.

That second reason offends a lot of people, yet I think that no one can avoid the clear link between intelligence and writing. We spend as many as 21 years of our lives or more learning, most often through the study of the writings of intelligent people. We entertain ourselves by reading the writings of intelligent people. Even if we chose only to watch TV or listen to music, those scripts and songs were written by intelligent people (that is, people intelligent enough to write, at least).

The written word is a powerful force, and has been for most of mankind’s history. The written word has created nations and destroyed them. It has the power to inspire and encourage millions. It has inspired acts of courage and imagination and acts of treachery and abomination. When it is the right words, I believe the written even has the power to save people’s souls or destroy them.

I believe that our modern society does not give enough credence or respect to the written word or to the people who write them. Civilization has been built, in part, on the shoulders of writers, their ideas, and their actions, yet today too many people think of writers as some sort of underclass to the people who have ‘real’ jobs.

If what I say about writing, the written word, and history are true, though, there is no question as to why our modern society struggles. Without intelligent people writing and intelligent people reading, we are not adding to the legacy of the civilization that got us where we are now. What will that say about us to future generations?

As for me, I have no intention that those generations should have to speculate about me, and I hope that many other intelligent people will join me in establishing that legacy. It can all begin in 7 days.