You Need More Thinking Time

In the process of working on my new book, I’ve been forced to really quantify my writing habits.

It’s a tricky thing to do. Definitions, by their nature, are exclusive: they say, yes, it’s this thing, and no, not that thing. But writing tends to defy this yes/no categorisation.

At least in my experience, writing is actually just a massive experiment in cross-pollination.

It’s where I can metabolise information about myself and other people and science and walking and emotions and psychology and dogs and plants and economics and bees and ethics and every other thing that makes me curious.

This is what makes it so worthwhile. Writing is about making meaning — taking all the big stuff and small stuff and weird stuff and turning it into something you understand and recognise.

It’s magic, in its way.

Everything in my life is material for writing, and so honing it down to a simple explanation is profoundly challenging.

But here’s what it comes down to:

Writing is really an extended, expanded form of thinking.

It allows you to get deeper into your own mind than you can do by thought alone. The physical record you create on the page captures clues and insights that would go unnoticed if not written down.

It highlights many of the inconsistencies, logical leaps and biases that go unchecked when we rely on thought alone.

The page challenges you to clarify your understanding and your intent — you can’t just trail off mid-thought when something becomes difficult or confusing without it becoming glaringly obvious.

Writing forces you to truly get to know what you think: it’s a crucible.

Knowing what you think and knowing how to think is the foundation of autonomy and freedom. The clarity and focus that comes from knowing your own mind is the foundation of purpose and fulfilment.

And so I’m being serious when I say you need more thinking (writing) time: it’s the most valuable way you can spend your time, because it will show you what matters, and what you’re meant for.