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When you write it lets you get your thoughts in order helps clear the mind. It aids concentration and has a generally calming effect because it induces a state of mindfulness. It keeps you be in the present and provides focus. And if you are troubled by intrusive thoughts, it will also help you ignore that mental chatter.

You don’t have to be able to turn a perfect phrase and what you write doesn’t even have to make sense. When it’s just for you it becomes a uniquely personal pastime that can reduce tension and anxiety, boost your sense of self and your confidence.

I spend a lot of my time as a writer. It is satisfying because it helps me clarify my ideas on a given topic, and sometimes it forces me to think more clearly. But in terms of my sense of satisfaction and contentment, not all writing is equal.

We are all used to doing it. We prepare lists, write emails, prepare reports… This is a functional activity, to fulfil a specific purpose. Subject as we are to external pressures it’s often done to order, and to a deadline.

But there’s another sort of activity I’m thinking of here. Call it writing for pleasure, spontaneous writing or capturing a stream of consciousness. From this perspective it is an act of the imagination and – and here’s the big bonus – it unlocks our ideas and creativity.

Clear the clutter

I don’t just mean creativity in the literary sense. When you write it helps clear a cluttered mind, germinate ideas, process our emotions, daydream, and imagine how things might be. When we allow the writing to guide our thoughts – rather than the other way round – it facilitates conceptual thinking, which is where new and often unexpected ideas come from.

Journaling

Not so many people these days keep a diary or write a journal, and it’s not necessary to record your thoughts daily to benefit from this style of writing, but in my view it does require the basic discipline of regularity. It doesn’t have to be the same time every day (though many writers insist that it does), ‘regular’ can mean recurrent opportunities. The commute, for example, or coffee breaks.

Morning pages

In a more structured way, there’s an exercise called Morning Pages. This involves filling three sides of paper with words, stream of consciousness-style, first thing every day.

According to it’s fans, making a regular habit of putting pen to paper in this way  (which seems to work better then ‘fingers to keyboard’) can have a liberating effect. You can write about whatever’s on your mind: cares and concerns, great ideas, troubling thoughts… But is must be done first thing, immediately on waking. Above all you should let it flow with no thought of editing, getting it ‘right’, or being clever.

Get it down

Try it, you’ll see. To start with never mind what you write. The important thing is creating the space to do it, and don’t bother with doing anything worthwhile, smart or meaningful, just write. Writing unlocks the imagination, so just get on with it.

By the way, don’t wait for inspiration to strike. Writing creates inspiration, not the other way round. So write today, and every day.

Imagination Is the Start of Your Grand Designs

Rumination – How to Let It Go

5 Responses to “How Writing Can Help Clear Your Mind”

  1. What you write is true – I know this. I’ve been trying to take that very first step for years, and still have not achieved it…the hard part for me is the very first word. I wonder if I should start with just one word a day and work my way up? Does anyone have any suggestions of how to “just start”?

  2. I’m not sure anyone else will have that answer for you, your start is your start if you know what I mean. I am answering you and probably have the same issue. I always ‘talk’ about starting to write, everyone tells me I should write, I decided I would, in my retirement I would write short stories, and guess what, after reading Barry’s note today, today is when I start – this is my start. For years people procrastinate, I know, I am one of them, well today is when I change all of that…….. Good luck. Either get your fingers on the keyboard or my favourite – a pen in your hand, and just let the words flow. As Barry said, it doesn’t have to be a best seller. You have just helped me produce my first Title – ‘It’s a start’ – I’ve started.

  3. Maybe I should expand on this post. I’ve been there many times, and still have to remind myself to “just do it…”.
    More soon, when I can get round to writing it.

  4. Thank you Smiler…your words are inspiring me, even if it is only one word at a time. Good luck to you too in your endeavours…hopefully one day I will be reading a book that you have written. My words won’t be a book, they will be my own story, written on paper, hopefully to help my healing process.

  5. Dear Smiler, Well, how’s the writing going? I have just re-discovered your comment you left on my blog, over a year ago now. Best wishes.

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