Sunday, July 29, 2007

Better Thinking Skills Through Writing

Better thinking skills come from practice. What are some good ways to practice? You can sit and think, for starters, you can work on specific puzzles and problems. You can have interesting discussions with others. There may not be a "best" way to practice your thinking skills and boost your brainpower, but one of the most powerful is to write.

Why writing? Because unless you are just copying words, to write is to think. There are three basic ways in which writing helps your thinking skills.

1. Writing clarifies your thoughts.

You may have noticed how much clearer an argument or opinion becomes to you once you express it. Talking forces you to clarify your thoughts, but not just to the other person. Putting thoughts into words is also a process of telling yourself the logic behind what you "felt" or what you only partly understood. You try to make the other person understand, but you are often also bringing yourself to that understanding, or at least a better one. You are thinking aloud.

Writing accomplishes the same thing. It is essentially like talking to the paper or computer screen. Compared to talking, it has the disadvantage of not giving you outside feedback. On the other hand, you get to express and develop your thoughts without interruption. This is a great way to work on your thinking skills. Boost your brainpower by exercising your "explain power."

2. Writing establishes firmer memories.

We cannot use what we cannot remember. This isn't entirely true, because we are often using a lot of information from our unconscious minds in decision making and everyday life. However, to consciously think about a topic effectively, we need to have the knowledge and ideas we have gained available. This means we need to remember things. Better memory equals better thinking skills.

Writing helps with this. This is why we were all advised in school to take notes. It wasn't just to have the notes for later, but also because the process of writing things down helps us remember them. By the way, a piece of paper and a pen in your pocket is a good idea if you want to remember new people's names. Just write them down as soon as you learn them.

3. Writing gives you new insight.

Do you want to understand a topic? Write a book or ten articles about it. Okay, you may not have the time, but if you are learning about behavioral economics, for example, you can write a letter to a friend about it, and you will understand it better.

Do you want to invent a new product? Write down an explanation of the problem you are trying to solve (ex: create a better chair). Include an explanation of the good and bad points of the current solutions. Write about some possible approaches, and write about anything else you can think of. Do this exercise, and you're half-way to your new invention.

People don't necessarily write about something because they understand it already. They often start writing about something because they want to understand it, and the process of writing is what brings about their understanding. Why not start a journal today and improve your thinking skills by writing?

About the Author:

Steve Gillman has been studying brainpower and related topics for years. For more on How To Increase Brain Power, and to get the Brain Power Newsletter and other free gifts, visit:

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1 comment:

Debra said...

Aside from the writing I do professionally, I also write in a journal where I can just ramble. I'm often surprised at just how much clearer my thoughts are after I've had a chance to pour them out on paper.