Write It Into Being

Yesterday I mentioned that putting words to the page has an interesting way of committing you to a particular course of action.

It’s a powerful quirk of the brain, that handwriting solidifies your ideas, and moves you, ever so subtly, towards action.

We know that handwriting is deeply involved with creativity, healing and problem-solving, but I suspect it also has a part to play in consistency bias — our innate drive to act in a way that’s consistent with our previous behaviours.

The possibility that writing shapes your behaviour washes my nerdy little brain with glee.

It means that writing can be used as a catalyst, rather than just a method of record-keeping. Writing out your ideas, hopes and plans makes them just a tiny bit more real — they’ve been transformed from flickering electrical signals in your brain to tangible instructions on a page.

They might not be written as instructions, but your mind doesn’t really notice that. This is not just a woo-woo ‘where attention goes, energy flows’ cliché — it’s called selective attention, or inattention blindness.

(The exercise in this video is a good example of selective attention at work.)

When you write stuff down, you focus on it. In turn, you tend to act in alignment with what you’re focusing on.

In case it’s not obvious, THIS IS A BIG DEAL.

If you want something to change, start writing about it. The more you write about it, the more solutions will present themselves. The more solutions are available to you, the more uncomfortable it will become for you to do nothing — consistency bias doing its thing.

And if you have a dream, a hope, a desire that feels too fragile to be spoken, too precious to be told — write it down instead. The page is a safe haven, and you can slowly, carefully, write it into being.

It might not be instant. It might not be fun. It almost certainly won’t be easy. But it will be worth it.