There are so many reasons to write! You don’t have to write professionally to experience the many benefits writing can offer you. Remember, while few people write professionally, everyone writes, most often to help them do their work. While you may not consider yourself a writer, you already write. So write more!
Here are four reasons to write.
Writing will help you remember things. Most people can only hold seven things in their minds at once. When new information comes in, old information is lost – unless you write it down. You’re 73% more likely to remember and act on something if you write it down. (If you type your notes, this number drops to 39%, which is still much better.) Part of this stickiness comes from finding the words that work best for you, so use the language that you’re most comfortable with and that means the most to you. You probably have a to do list professionally, so why wouldn’t you use one to help you excel in your creative life too? And there are times when everyone needs a checklist. (Atul Gawande Checklist Manifesto shows how doctors used checklists to reduce hospital deaths and complications by more than 33%.)
Writing helps you see more and see more clearly. Like any creative discipline, writing encourages closer observation. You note more things. You note more things about the things you note. Unlike photography, which encourages observation of things you can see, writing can also help you observe things you can’t see like your thoughts and emotions, interactions within relationships, and processes unfolding in time. When you find the right words to describe something you understand it better.
Writing can help you find more ideas. When you unburden your memory those mental resources are freed to do more things. You’ll become mentally freer and more energized. It’s important to file your notes in an easily retrievable organized system that you trust, otherwise your mind will continue trying to remember everything, which no one can do, not even the gifted who have photographic memory. Once you see what you’ve written new ideas will come to you. You can accelerate this process by playing word games. Alex Osborne’s acronym SCAMPER (Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put To Other Uses, Expand, Reverse) is a mnemonic device for a series of mental operations you can use, each of which is capable of leading to countless new ideas.
Organizing your writing helps you get organized. Often the process of taking notes isn’t linear, you simply let it all out. When you revisit and reorganize your notes you make even more sense out of your observations. Lists help you identify steps in a process, set priorities, and identify more important items. Remember, you can also use size, color or graphic symbols like underlines and stars to make some words stand out more than others.
Take Notes With Images
Images and words can create a wonderful synergy. Include an image with you written notes and you can dramatically increase the amount of information you record and how memorable it becomes. Some things are better noted visually rather than verbally. If you can see what you want to make a record of then a photograph can very efficiently make a note, often one full of detail that would take more time than necessary to record. If you need to make a visual note and you can’t photograph it, make a doodle instead. Diagrams can be particularly useful for recording processes (vectors, paths, timelines, etc) and relationships (maps, graphs, Venn diagrams, etc)
What about taking notes with audio? Audio is helpful if you need to make notes hands free. Otherwise, it takes time to review audio as it’s played back, so it’s not the most efficient way to take notes. However, if you are having a conversation with someone and you don’t want to interrupt the flow by taking notes audio is quite useful. Nothing records intonation and inflection like audio does. And on those rare occasions where you want to note the particular sound of something, once again there’s nothing quite like audio.
Remember … Perfect takes time, so for this purpose it isn’t. It’s a distraction. Be more productive. Satisfice. Think of your notes as a place to record and explore your observations – not the way you’ll present them to others. With this realization you’ll be freer about what you record and how you record it. And that’s the point.
Make notes, lots of notes, and keep doing it. You’ll find the time you spend not rushing to finished results will make what you produce better in every way. Besides, it’s fun!
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