How Writing Leads to Thinking

As a former speech and debate competitor in extemporaneous speaking, I have been conditioned to prepare speeches under short time constraints for noteless presentations. In doing so, I have adapted a policy that fewer written words on my notecard and more floating thoughts in my head can magically assemble into a flawless presentation. Although it worked during my years as a competitor, I always felt my arguments were always far from perfect, which I accredited to the mere 30 minutes of allotted preparation time.

Lynn Hunt explains why I struggled with my arguments as she explores the reality of putting words on a page. If the mind is truly 95% subconscious than each sentence – each word – helps the writer explore the super majority of the brain that despite being so connected acts so distantly. My thoughts may seem logical and well-connected, but it’s not until I process the thoughts into written words that I can truly search for flaws or shortcoming.

Writing is a special process of truly exploring one’s self and the thoughts we truly have. The act of transcribing words on a page is an opportunity for a writer to act as an interviewer or psychologist to his/herself. When the words exist on the page, the thought and intentions behind them can’t randomly be lost – the concretely exist.

I am struggling lightly to write this blog post, but it’s not because I didn’t read the article or lack appreciation for it. I am re-digesting and internalizing my approach to writing. The Minor in Writing will perhaps incubate and nurture me to become more free in my thoughts – or I should say my writing. It will allow me to follow Hunt’s lead to stop thinking about notes and let the thoughts flow onto the paper and only then remove the “weeds” before the next radish count. There should be no rush to a masterful end product. My thoughts are a starting point and my writing should be the journey.

Perhaps my greatest struggle with my writing isn’t intellectual. Lynn is right. It’s psychological. I fear the words I write on the page because I fear being judged. I don’t care about being vulnerable as a public speaker, but something about words on a published page seem so permanent. Do I write actively? Is the story or argument worth telling? Does it make sense? Did I put enough effort into it? Will I be the only who cares about it?

The Minor in Writing will take me on a journey, one I hope that will help me let go and explore my mind. I’m ready to share my thoughts on everything from my psych midterm paper to my personal narratives. Isn’t the incessant sharing of thoughts and experiences the very thing the creates human progress?

My writing may start choppy and disconnected, but with every visit it will be refined. I have to learn to commit to not committing to first ideas or drafts and using them solely as a starting point.

Dear Writing Minor, I am ready to delve deeper into my brain. I want to see what I truly think about the world and challenge myself. I want to write, so I can share my thoughts with the rest of the world – let alone myself. I admit that I hate sitting down to write, yet I never seem to regret it once I stand up.

2 thoughts to “How Writing Leads to Thinking”

  1. I really like that you say “my thoughts are a starting point and my writing should be the journey,” as I totally agree with this. It is really important as writers that we let go of inhibitions and freely express ourselves on the page. However, it does take a little brainstorming and ruminating on our thoughts to start, like you said. I think you did that well in this blog post, because you were very transparent and authentic with your thoughts. It doesn’t seem like you held back.
    I also think writing is a very psychological experience, both for the writer and the reader, and I think it is important to remember that when trying to get a point across or connect with the reader, but don’t let it cause you to overthink the process of writing. It is important to just write, without too much thought, as Hunt makes clear in her piece.

  2. You describe the act of writing as being similar to an interview, or psychological analysis with yourself. I very much relate to this perspective. Thoughts seem coherent in my head, but become challenging to articulate once I put pen to paper. Writing forces me to ask myself the questions that my thinking mind sometimes neglects.

    I don’t think you should feel self-conscious about putting words down. Your writing voice sounds natural to me—it’s probably more similar to your speech and debate tone than you think.

    I also connect to your idea about using initial thoughts as the starting point, but not necessarily marrying them.

Leave a Reply