To sit down, with zero distractions. Put your thoughts into paper. Put your intentions. Most thoughts you put down on paper will seem ridiculous, and out of touch with reality.
But that's why writing is important. It helps us see our beliefs in their bare bones. It helps us discuss our ideas.
Not all that we think is obvious to us unless we face those thoughts directly. We are all too good at repressing information into our subconscious. We are too good at internalizing trauma instead of facing it.
That's what writing can do to you, it can help you face the uncomfortable sides of your nature.
It helps organize your thoughts, to clean up that attic between your ears.
It's a meditative practice that you can do at any time with a pen and paper, or with that highly addictive device in your pocket.
I used to write a lot in journals back in college. It helped me destress and put my highly hormonal-filled thoughts in perspective.
What seemed like an emergency last week would make me laugh the next after I revisited my notes.
Panic attacks and crises lost their power, and I began to heal. My sense of humor returned and with it, all my once lost creativity. I was never a good drawer or a painter. But writing is a highly approachable form of art. As long as you are alphabetized, you can write your soul onto paper and feel the cathartic feeling of having your emotions validated.
Writing is thinking but it's so much more to me. It's the place I feel safe after a hard day, and it's where I can organize myself. I write grocery lists, poems, essays, studies, and online arguments with strangers I've never met nor will I ever.
If anything, I was never a good drawer because it never felt like a compulsion for me. I used to write even without any polish and style, and I couldn't care less if other people would want to read it. Even I didn't want to read it at first. But I had to write.
I feel the same way about programming and editing videos. The compulsion guides me. But this post is about writing so let's stick to it.
If by now you haven't felt the urge to just unload all your heavy thoughts, obligations, and to-do lists onto a piece of paper, let me add in a few more advantages of writing.
What is Unloading? Whenever we feel distressed, like there is too much to do, and we can't point exactly all of the stuff we need it's a sign our brains have become very loaded with information.
Simply jotting down a few notes or, a list of items, takes the edge off of our brains to memorize these things. And since the brain is only good at keeping 3-4 highly important pieces of information simultaneously at the same time, it's a good tool to use to unburden it, so we can set some things aside, analyze what actually needs to get done, and then attack each with our entire focus.
Here's my current list:
- Go to the Doctor
- Fix Car Engine
- Travel item list to put on my bag
- Don't forget to call Grandpa
- Check bills
- Find some research that says humans only keep 3-4 highly important things in their mind simultaneously so I don't look like I just popped this number out of nowhere. (Lucas from the future here, yeaahhh we are not gonna do that).
Humans are great at prioritizing and tackling complex tasks, that's what differentiates us from other animals.
In this digital age, life has become even more complex. Now it's not enough to hunt for food, sleep, and mate. Now we need to worry about what 3 people in Indonesia have thought about one of our badly curated tweets.
As complexity arises, abstractions come to help us deal with them. You don't need to hunt now, you just need to make money. How to make money? Create something people want to buy. But you don't need to know how to do that, you can just join an organization that already has done that job, and only requires you to work alongside others to keep pushing for the market-tested product.
Language has been the first big abstraction we've created to handle this complexity. No need to experience a first-degree burn from touching fire if someone tells you fire is hot and can cause that.
And then we weaponized language into writing, allowing us not only to communicate with each other today, but to talk to people in the future, and in turn, talk to people in the past.
This is why I write.
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