Writing Is Thinking
May 17, 2021
Nobel Prize winner and Physicist Richard Feynman once said, “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.” We fool ourselves by imagining we know more than we do; we think we are experts.
To believe something in our head feels clear is a potential blind spot many of us suffer from.
The best way to figure whether you are clear about something is by explaining it in writing.
Try and put your ideas on paper in a structured way such that someone else reading it can understand and appreciate what you are thinking. If you can do that successfully, it means your understanding is sound, and you are clear about whatever it is you are considering.
If, on the other hand, you try and put down your ideas on paper in a structured manner, and you realize you can’t, it means your thinking is weak, more than your writing.
Most of us are lazy. We try to think in our heads. This does not work.
Writing your ideas down, capturing your thoughts, and laying them out on paper is disciplined thinking.
Let me illustrate this point through a typical example.
I ask many of the folks I interact with- “Do you have your life goals written down?” 90% of the people are confused between their To-Do List and Goals. They have their daily To-Do list written down, but they don’t have their goals written down. When I push them, they say, “I know what I want,” but they don’t have what they want, written down anywhere.
Goals are the thoughts you have about what you want your future life to be like. Writing down your goals will force you to think about how you intend to achieve your goals.
Sitting and staring out of a window, thinking and philosophizing about what you will do to achieve your goals, is not structured thinking. It is laziness.
Writing is a fundamental form of thinking. Start capturing your thoughts in words. This discipline will force you to clarify what it is you are thinking.