The Power of the Pen According to Anne Frank

She was arguably the most influential writer of all time.

Anne Frank was a young teenager who wrote a diary while hiding from the Nazi War machine in World War Two.

Anne would meet a terrible fate, dying at age 15 in a Nazi Labor Camp, but for the two years she was in hiding, it was the writing of her diary that gave her comfort, intellectual stimulation and the strength to survive.

Today – Anne Frank’s legacy teaches us that we too can not only survive, but thrive, in business and in life – if only we would take to the pen.

“I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.”

If your career is stalled, you’re feeling lonely, or you’re confused – writing down your thoughts will bring clarity. Productivity expert and author David Allen recommends what he terms a “core dump” in which you write down all of the things on your mind – every task you need to do, every concern or issue you face. Why? It downloads the burden of stress from your brain onto the paper, freeing up your mind.

Psychologists confirm that writing also helps us process our emotions, as it did for Anne Frank. Trapped in a small room with family members, Anne faced certain insanity unless she could express her feelings by writing them out.

Writing a little bit each day also aided Anne in taking life one day at a time, so as not to be overwhelmed by her predicament.

It is not an exaggeration to say that writing can improve your health.

The year is 1940 and Anne Frank is seen sitting at her school desk (photographer unknown). It would be just 2 years later that Anne and her family were forced into hiding. Upon reading Anne’s diary, I could not help shed a tear. Anne was a brave soul, as were many others who met their untimely death at the hands of a madman. 

“In the long run, the sharpest weapon of all is a kind and gentle spirit.”

Even though Anne was born in Germany, her Jewish ancestry made her a target of the brutal, racist Nazi regime in Germany. Rather than becoming hateful, Anne’s writing gave her the opportunity to see the big picture. She rejected violence and saw kindness as the ultimate weapon in the creation of peace. Her “big picture” mindset was allowed to flourish in her diary where all things were possible. Today, as we struggle to improve our careers, businesses and lives – no idea is too silly and no dream too impossible, when we write it down.

“A quiet conscience makes one strong!”

Whenever I can’t figure something out, I write down pros and cons, key points and possible solutions. The result is some kind of order to the chaos. The problems still exist but at least now, I have a fighting chance. Anne viewed her plight this way. In the quiet of her mind, transferring her fears and beliefs to paper gave her inner strength. No matter your situation, writing will provide the leverage you need to keep going.

The story of Anne Frank has touched millions of people the world over and been the inspiration for Hollywood movies.

There are those who argue that Anne’s diary was not written by her at all, but rather, her father Otto who managed to survive the war and live to the ripe old age of 91 (dying in 1980). The theory is that the messages in Anne’s diary are so well written, so insightful and so wise – they could not possibly have been written by a 13 year old girl.

But they were.

And that’s the power of the pen.

History cannot tell us exactly how Nazi soldiers managed to find Anne and her family in the Netherlands, hiding in an office building within a small room with the entrance covered by a bookshelf. But someone, somehow, betrayed them.

Anne, along with her sister Margot, were sent to a concentration camp where they were treated as slaves, lifting heavy rocks, but this strong-willed human being with an almost indestructible mind, survived – only to be sent to a labor camp after falling ill. Ann died, not from a bullet, but likely from typhoid fever which was rampant in many of the camps.

Anne Frank originally did not intend for her diary to be public, but did have aspirations of being a published author. Her diary was discovered by an employee of the Amsterdam office building where Anne was hiding, then given to Anne’s father who couldn’t believe what he read.

Anne hoped that she could keep on living, even past her death – which of course, thanks to her diary, is exactly what happened.

Build your career, your life – your mind – through the power of writing.

Anne Frank’s diary “The Diary of a Young Girl” remains an all-time best seller. Her writings helped her survive a small, confined space where 8 people from 2 families struggled to get along. Today – the diary is much more than that. It’s proof that the written word can give our lives meaning, stability and hope.

My historical profiles are first seen on my LinkedIn account, then appear later here on my blog. Join me on LinkedIn.

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