Develop Your Thinking Skills Through Writing
Better thinking 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
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
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 by writing?