I know someone who, when she first learnt to read, ran home from school and immediately sat down to teach her younger siblings. To her it was like magic. A new world had opened up, increasing her powers a thousand-fold. She wanted to share it with everyone; and she has been a prolific reader ever since. I thought of her when I sat down to write this post because I have a similar magical feeling about writing.
Writing offers us insights into ourselves, revealing more than we knew was there. It’s as if there is no hiding place once we put pen to paper. The benefits of writing are numerous. First and foremost, writing things down means your mind is free from having to remember them. Goals and visions, when committed to paper, instantly become more powerful. And any written record of an experience is permanent, meaning we are able look back whenever we want and see how far we have progressed.
This entire blog is an example of that last point. The clearest illustration comes in the form of two posts, written exactly 11 years apart. The first, ‘Where Am I?’, is a snapshot of who I was at that time, very early on in my personal development training. Years later, when I came to post that piece online, I wrote ‘Measurable Results’, which looks at the same three criteria I used in the original post. The result is a clear record of my progress. Undeniable and conclusive.
The real magic of the process becomes visible when we compare thinking, speaking and writing.
When we think about something, we do it at the speed of thought. (Obviously.) As such, it is easy to overlook some aspects; especially if they are uncomfortable. Moreover, if we are examining the kind of behaviour patterns or long-standing issues we have visited a hundred times before, we tend to skim the surface as we allow ourselves to be drawn too quickly towards well-rehearsed conclusions. The familiarity and speed of thought are obstacles to our analysis, preventing us from getting to the core of the problem. Moreover, a lack of outside intervention means we cannot be challenged.
To solve this we can discuss our thoughts with another person. Talking things through with someone brings a new perspective; one which offers fresh thoughts and searching questions. It may be difficult with friends and family because they are so close to us and may not be able to offer the detached support we need. A coach offers an objective point of view, acts as a non-judgmental sounding board and will challenge you when it’s appropriate. Crucially, explaining your situation properly to someone else will bring you greater understanding and insight.
Writing takes the whole process to an even deeper level. It slows us down further, making us think more deliberately about what we are describing. It challenges us with our own words, questioning the accuracy of our experience. We are confronted with our descriptions and cornered into being straight with ourselves. And we comply because it’s easier to write the truth than lies.
Those deeper thoughts and reflections over which our mind so often passes, suddenly have the chance to surface. They appear magically, as if written by another’s hand. (Meditation works in the same way.) Furthermore, the writing process allows you to play around with the words until they fall into an order which touches you deep inside; a sure sign that you’re onto something.
This all leads inevitably to an increase in awareness. You begin to notice more of everything. You observe how you act and react, and how situations play out differently if you alter just one aspect of who you are. The more you observe, the more likely you are to actively influence your own behaviour. But it doesn’t stop there because, fascinatingly, change also occurs without you even trying. The act of observation itself is enough to cause a shift. And you can set it all in motion just by putting pen to paper.