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CreativityTools and Systems

Is writing down your thoughts actually important?

October 26, 2015 — by Matt

A few weeks ago I published an article about a bad week I had, and how the simple habit of writing down one good thing that happened during the day had completely changed my attitude and set me up to tackle the rest of my week with renewed vigor.

Before I published the post I was telling my incredibly supportive girlfriend (who helped spark me to actually start this blog) about the concept of the article and how writing these thoughts down was important. After my too-lengthy explanation, she asked a question I hadn’t asked myself – “why is the writing important – can’t you just think about and reflect on the good things that happened in your day for the same effect?”

I started to launch into all the reasons why writing down your thoughts is so powerful, but then I stopped myself. Is writing inherently more powerful than other methods? I had assumed writing was better because it worked best for me. But is it really more impactful in cementing your goals or personal pillars than other methods? Why not meditate on them? Why not draw a picture?

So I decided to do some reading.

There are plenty of people out there who share my opinion on the power of writing. This article identifies writing as a tool to combat stress. This one claims it can “change your life”. And this article (which I’ve featured on the blog before) espouses the cognitive and creative benefits of writing.

I agreed with all of it. I mean, writing works for me, so of course I did. But that could just be a confirmation bias – seeking out and identifying with information in a way that confirms my own preconceptions and opinions.

I still believe writing really, truly works. Even without a purpose or a specific goal, free-writing can be incredibly therapeutic and I’d recommend to anyone to open a notebook or Evernote and start writing during times of stress, reflection, or indecisiveness. But promoting a one-size-fits-all solution in any scenario is at best arrogant and dismissive of individuality and at worst dangerous and overbearingly dogmatic.

What I realized while exploring my own relationship with writing was that the benefit was in the intent, not in the act itself. By purposefully sitting down, opening a notebook, and setting my mind to a task I was telling myself “this is important”. Taking action to write and going through the ritual itself made the writing meaningful rather than accidental, and I was more likely to write with depth and meaning. But that same concept can be applied to many types of reflection and introspection. Setting up a place to sit and think, putting on some soothing music for meditation, or opening your voice recorder to get something off your chest can be just as useful to really connecting with the thoughts, problems, conundrums, and even the gratitude that needs to be brought to the surface.

So is the actual writing part important? To me, yes – but it’s largely because that’s what works for me. My method is not the “best” method, and it might not even be the best method for me at any given time, so it’d be impossible for me to say it’s what everyone should be doing.

The writing itself isn’t the important part – the intent is. Whatever your preferred method – creative visualization, meditation, writing, or voice recording – as long as the intent is clear and you can take lessons from your practice, it’s effective.


Does writing work for you, or do you find other methods of getting your thoughts out more effective? Leave a comment below!

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Matt

Simply on a quest to become unboring. Artist, Producer, part-time word-putter-together at BoringGrownups.com. SPIRAL SURFER. Chasing freedom. Only getting weirder.

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