Writing: Your Guide to Clarity of Thought and Connection

9 October 2023
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Many of us have the freedom to write, but few use it. I, for one, used to limit my writing to sending text messages filled with emoticons, gifs, and links. Looking back, I realize how much I underestimated the potential of writing.

For the past six years, I have had a solid writing habit. I have consistently written several thousand words a day.

So what changed?

I discovered that writing slows down my thinking process and opens up hidden dimensions and corners of my mind that I would never have explored without a solid writing practice.

I think perfectly well without writing, you say… You may be an exception to the rule, but most people who think without writing tend to ruminate and get caught up in excessive and repetitive thinking.

Every time I take the time to write down my thoughts, I embark on a journey of self-discovery, exploring the uncharted landscapes of my cognition.

I write to get to know myself; the written word acts as a map, guiding me through the labyrinth of our thoughts and ideas.

I understand and shape ideas, concepts, and mental models through writing.

Writing is the bridge that connects my inner and outer worlds, facilitating a transformative experience that transcends boundaries and limitations, expanding my perception of myself and reality.

Thinking can only take me so far; when I write what I think, I explore the depths of my inner self, which evolves and shapes my understanding of existence.

Writing changes the very fabric of how I think and what decisions I make.

Writing: A Cognitive Filter for Organizing and Processing Thoughts

Writing acts as a cognitive filter, allowing me to process and organize my thoughts in a more structured and deliberate way.

I transcribe my thoughts onto paper or a digital medium; whenever I put my ideas into words, I am forced to clarify and coherently articulate them.

Writing also helps me to formulate my thoughts tangibly. By externalizing my ideas, I can see them from a more detached perspective, allowing me to evaluate and analyze my thoughts from a different point of view.

I can identify gaps in my thinking, inconsistencies, or areas that need further exploration.

Writing: An empowering way to explain things

When I struggle to know what I need or want and how to communicate it, I write

When I have a bad day, I write.

Because relying solely on my thoughts can only take me so far.

Writing about a topic helps me expose gaps in comprehension and helps me explain it effectively.

When I write, I naturally organize my ideas into paragraphs, bullet points, or headings.

With this structure to my beliefs, I improve my ability to communicate them clearly to others and myself.

Writing also allows me to capture and preserve my thoughts for my future self. It acts as a repository for ideas, insights, and observations.

By putting my thoughts into writing, I create a record to revisit and reflect on later.

This not only helps me remember my ideas but also allows me to track my personal development over time.

Writing: The best way to understand most concepts

As a nursing science educator, I understand that different students may find that hands-on activities, visual aids, or interactive discussions help them understand certain concepts better.

With that said, my experience with 95% of all students is that writing is still one of the most effective ways for them to learn different concepts and mental models.

When we write, we engage with knowledge on a deeper level. It is through the process of writing that we truly internalize and comprehend the concepts we are learning.

Writing provides a unique opportunity to deeply engage with and internalize the knowledge I am acquiring.

When I put my thoughts into words on paper, I can solidify my understanding of various concepts and mental models. Writing allows me to reflect, organize, and synthesize information, greatly enhancing my learning process.

Moreover, writing serves as a valuable tool for self-expression. Through writing, I can express my thoughts, ideas, and opinions in a structured and coherent manner. This helps me clarify my values, goals, and purpose and enables others to understand and engage with my perspectives.

How to begin developing your writing practice.

It’s easy to get stuck overthinking every aspect and not writing anything.

What should you write about?

How often should you write?

These are valid questions, but answering these questions alone won’t create long-lasting writing habits.

Understanding your personal WHY behind writing is important to developing consistent writing habits.

I write to solve my problems and add value to others struggling with some of the same things.

I write to process life, I write to solve my problems so I can be a better partner, father, college, and human being.

I approach my writing curiously and constantly seek answers by asking empowering questions.

I actively avoid inputs that don’t generate anything to reflect on, like mindlessly scrolling through short content that numbs my mind and drains my cognitive energy and focus.

I only write about things that create a helpful, achievable change in something or someone, including myself.

Here are some thought-provoking questions to help you get started and keep writing:

Why do you write? What is your main motivation? Is it to express yourself, inform others, entertain, or heal? It’s important to take the time to reflect on your values and aspirations to gain a deeper understanding of yourself.

Who are you writing for? Are you writing for yourself, a specific group of people, or your future self? Understanding your ‘who’ will help you tailor your tone and content.

What do you love learning about? Writing is more enjoyable when the words flow easily and you feel a sense of purpose. Your “what” can be something external, such as new knowledge, skills, or a topic you are knowledgeable about.

It can also be internal, like feelings, past experiences, or reflections.

Jot down these questions and answer them as truthfully as possible.

Once you’re done, start writing!

Maybe you start a daily journal or a blog about something you’re passionate about.

Don’t feel restricted to just one form of writing: experiment…experiment…mix and match, play around, change things up… Writing is a valuable form of thinking, and it is possible to make it more enjoyable.

Writing Checklist:

  1. Active Engagement: Do I actively engage with concepts when I write about them?
  2. Clarity and Organization: Can I articulate my thoughts clearly and coherently?
  3. Identifying Gaps in Knowledge: Do I identify gaps in my knowledge or understanding while writing?
  4. Retaining Information: Does writing help me retain information and reinforce my understanding?
  5. Critical Thinking and Analysis: Does writing encourage critical thinking and analysis of concepts?
  6. Synthesis of Knowledge: Can I synthesize and integrate different information through writing?
  7. Creativity: Are you embracing unconventional thinking? Do you allow your imagination to run wild when writing? Are you open to trying different writing styles and techniques? Do you actively seek inspiration from a wide range of sources?
  8. Embrace Failure and Learn from It: Are you willing to embrace failure as part of the creative process? Failure can be a valuable learning experience that pushes you to explore new approaches and refine your writing skills.
  9. Trust your instincts: Do you follow your intuition when writing or copy others? Trusting your instincts can lead to unique and brilliant ideas.

The novelist William Maughan said there were three rules to good writing. “Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” There’s only one I believe in: Write for yourself; Don’t overthink it. Just start writing what you like to learn.

Good luck!

Recommended Reading

  • “On Writing Well” by William Zinsser
  • “Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life” by Anne Lamott
  • “The Elements of Style” by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White
  • “Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within” by Natalie Goldberg
  • “Steering the Craft: A Twenty-First-Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story” by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • “The Writing Life” by Annie Dillard
  • “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear” by Elizabeth Gilbert
  • “The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles” by Steven Pressfield