Writing as a Thinking Tool

Nov 27, 2013 | Better Writing

“I don’t know what I think until I write it down.”

I’ve seen that quote or something very close to it attributed to Joan Didion, Norman Mailer, Flannery O’Connor, Winston Churchill, and Margaret Mead. I’m sure I’ve missed a few famous folk who said the same thing.

I heard similar sentiments from not-so-famous business executives. They use writing to help them clarify their thinking and sharpen their opinions.

But don’t take their word for it, or mine either. Try it for yourself.

The next time you need to understand an issue or make a decision, write out your thinking. Prepare to be surprised. Most of us think our arguments are clear and our reasoning is sharp when all we do is think things through. Writing forces you to confront the gaps and inconsistencies and flawed reasoning.

Bottom Line

Writing out your thinking and reasoning will make you a better thinker.

What do you think?

Does writing help you think more clearly?