Good Writing Is About Good Data

At Christmas my husband gave me an Oura ring, which tracks your sleep, activity levels and your ‘readiness’ — how much pressure your body can handle during a workout.

I love it. I love seeing all the data and being able to track what effect certain variables have day-to-day.

Sometimes, though, the data can mess with you.

Like if I don’t get as much sleep as I want, I have a little freak-out that I am on a one-way ride to dementia and disease. Or if I haven’t hit my movement target for a day or two, I start fretting about the imminent loss of all my cardiac capacity.

This is why I’m so into record keeping. Oura does it for me on the physical front, and writing privately — whether it’s in a beautiful journal or a scrappy spiral notebook — does it for me psychologically.

When you have lots of data to look back on, the information you’re looking at right now is contextualised.

Is what you’re experiencing today normal, or is it an outlier? Has it been brought on by something else? If you need to return to a baseline of sorts — whether it’s emotionally or physically — what has helped you do it in the past?

If you’ve kept a record, especially of your mental and emotional state, questions like these can save you a huge amount of time and energy. It can also give you a wealth of ideas and material when you sit down to write more creatively.

Looking back at your own data can give you a sense of what to do next, what to focus on next. It allows you to start having a meaningful conversation with yourself, and it can show you the patterns and opportunities that you might not spot while just going about your life.

So if you’re not yet keeping a record of your life, today I’d like to invite you to start.

It doesn’t have to be crazy detailed — just make regular notes about what’s going on, and why it matters.

Over time it will be so satisfying and so insightful to look back at it all, and understand what all the data means for your future.