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Benefits of Writing

journaling helps organize thoughts

❝Writing is the best way to talk without being interrupted.❞ -Jules Renard

My attention is split between the falling snow outside and simply watching people. I'm at a coffee shop, and I'm supposed to be journaling about my past. Not long ago, I did some self-reflecting and thought I should enroll in a self-help journaling program. It sounded like a great idea as I was thinking it through, but now it's time to actually write; I'm second-guessing my decision-making skills. Thus, I'm people watching and looking at the snow instead of journaling.

Eventually, I get into the swing of things. For the next several days, I'm a journaling machine. I split my past up into different periods. I write about several emotional events that happened in each of those periods. I try to relate how those events have shaped who I am today.

Then it hits me. Events that felt like isolated incidents now fit into the big picture. Being alone in my room trying to draw comic book characters is related to my drawing pictures as part of this column. A conversation with my grandma about a building in downtown Fargo, North Dakota, was related to me going to technical school to study drafting. Helping a friend in college save a semester's worth of time was related to my calling of helping people live lives they would be proud to look back on.

I had no idea that writing could be so powerful, but I'm glad I did it.

journaling helps you see patterns you never noticed before


Writing is a great way to organize your thoughts. Turning your thoughts into sentences and paragraphs by writing gives you much of the same benefit as talking to a good listener. Both a good listener and writing your thoughts down in a journal help you articulate what you're thinking. Often, this is the first time you've tried to articulate yourself before. And if writing is almost as good as talking to a good listener, writing is definitely better than talking to a bad listener - and most people are bad listeners (it's not our fault; it's how we're wired).

By articulating your thoughts, you're able to simulate the world so you can plan to act in it. You can make sense of troubling events in the present and in the past. Thinking helps you gain clarity, and writing helps you think.

For some people, thinking, either by writing or speaking out loud to a professional listener, is very rare. Some people believe they think, but all that is is our inner dialogue ruminating from thought to thought.

Organizing our thoughts is where thinking happens.

journaling helps you express yourself almost as well as having a good listener


Articulating and organizing thoughts is how we think. There is a difference between the thoughts that pass through our minds and real thinking. Thinking is connecting the dots. Thinking is making sense of the various thoughts we have throughout the day.

over time journaling helps organize your thoughts


When things happen to us, either good or bad, but especially bad, there are a lot of thoughts floating around our heads. Connecting all those dots is how we can make sense of what's happened and allows us to create a cause-and-effect story. Thinking and writing help us tap into old memories that we have while at the same time allowing us to add more information that we've learned to further make sense of the story.

Making sense of adversity that's happened to you helps you learn the lessons that were there for you to learn. When you do that, you can actually grow from your adverse experiences, and you can do that through writing. Writing allows us to let go rather than hold on.