Why We Write: Not to Record and Reference, but to Realize and Remember

Do you read your notes? About 97% of the time, I don’t read mine. But I continue to write constantly, and I have done so for many years now. Those who don’t spend ‘extra time’ writing, either with a goal in mind or just in a ‘Daily Journal,’ may not realize the tremendous value writing holds as a practice. Sitting and writing just might be the most valuable way for any given person to spend their extra time.

For one, writing (ultimately, language) is how our minds actually realize thoughts or ideas. Think about that for a moment:  language (writing and its cheap alternative, speaking) is what identifies patterns in human cognition, allowing us all to share and connect. Yes, language is a communication tool. But until we write a thought or new idea down, in order to capture it to build upon tomorrow, I would argue that even the ‘owner’ of the thought doesn’t truly understand it.

This leads to another question – one that is a little bit scary to even consider and is beyond the scope of this post – what are ‘ideas’ or ‘thoughts’ at all, without language to represent them and communicate them?

In this blog post, we will try to encourage you to spend a little extra time writing. We will try to make clear that with the right purpose in mind – writing to realize your thoughts – there is unlimited value in spending your time ‘sitting, writing, thinking, and writing some more.’ Finally, we will review helpful, structured methods to encourage more writing at any education level.

Writing for Realization

Language and writing are not just tools for communication. They are integral to the process of thinking, understanding, and realizing ideas. Through writing, individuals can
“Externalization of Thought: Cognitive psychologists have explored how externalizing thoughts through writing or speaking can clarify and structure thinking. The process of writing forces the brain to slow down and engage with each component of a thought, often leading to new insights and a deeper understanding of the original idea. Reference: Kellogg, R. T. (2008), Training writing skills: A cognitive developmental perspective. Journal of Writing Research, 1(1), 1-26  
refine, and develop their thoughts in a way that is not possible through internal reflection alone.

Writing, as a practice, has intrinsic value beyond merely recording and referencing information. It is a cognitive tool as well as a communication tool. Language —manifested through speaking or more carefully, through writing — is essential for identifying patterns in human cognition. Writing is a tool for cognitive realization, and it has a direct impact in shaping our thoughts, ideas, and ultimately, who we are as individuals.

Writing offers a bridge between abstract, fleeting thoughts and tangible expressions value. Writers, whether published or not, can facilitate introspection and increase connection with others. This perspective invites us to consider writing not just as a means of communication but as a fundamental cognitive process. Writing (forming language) is, to some degree, everyone’s primary skill.

Digital vs. Traditional Writing

Practical Writing Activities

Encouraging Writing at All Levels

~C. Massey

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