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Why You Should Write Out Your Thoughts (Particularly for Difficult Problems)

writing is thinkingI write, therefore I think.

Writing has probably helped me more than any other habit. It helps me to organize my thoughts, synthesize and crystalize ideas, and process things in a way that I just can’t achieve through other means.

But here’s the powerful secret: this holds true even if nobody ever sees my writing.

Sure, I publish a lot of content and I like to put my writing out into the world.

But I also like to write things out just to think them through. There’s something about going through the exercise of writing thoughts out that helps to process them more completely.

I can review my writing, revise it, put it aside for a while and revisit it down the road. This is a great way to process and to internalize things.

Writing is a deeper level of thinking.

The beauty is that it’s free, easy, and accessible to all of us.

All you need to do is, well, do it.

Which can be hard at first.

Which is why it’s good to start practicing now.

Because it gets easier (quickly) over time.

You don’t need to show it to anybody but yourself. You just need to take something you’re thinking about already and write down your thoughts.

You could write a letter to yourself. You could think of it as a journal. You could draft an email to a colleague or a friend that you never intend to send.

You can type it up on the computer. You could write it on a notepad.

You could do it in the morning or late at night or on your lunch hour.

Simply take an issue, maybe something you’re struggling with or a decision you’ll need to make soon or a project that you’re working on, and “talk it through” with yourself.

It will help you to think. It will help you to gain perspective. It will help you to gain clarity.

And it won’t take much time. Writing steady for ten minutes will get you very, very far. You will be surprised.

Don’t believe me? Set a timer for ten minutes and start writing. Write nonstop: head down, no interruptions, no hesitation, just let it flow totally unfiltered (this is called “free writing”).

You will be surprised how much comes out and how far you get before the timer goes off.

When you’re done, you can throw it away or delete it or save it for reference later on. The fact that you wrote it out will have helped you to process it more deeply. Those more developed insights will be swimming around in your subconscious and they’ll find a way to come back an help you one way or another somewhere down the line.

Try a little writing exercise … and see what you think.