Writing is Finding Time to Think

There are many reasons to write regularly. I don’t mean writing to communicate like emails or text messages, but journalling, writing fiction or working on a well-researched topic.

Why is this something we should do? Why write a story when there are already so many other stories out there? What makes me think my writing is so much better than anyone else’s? For anyone feeling the resistance, I want to talk to you today. 

Writing is Working Out 

Writing is not about impressing someone with your vocabulary or turn of phrases, just like how going to the gym and working out is not about beating someone up at a Costco parking lot. Going to the gym is about taking care of yourself and doing something for your physical health. Writing is very much like going to the gym, but instead of working out your body, you are working out your mind. 

If you’ve ever done any meditation, you know that you are supposed to focus on mindfulness, which is being conscious of what you are thinking about, but you are not chasing any of those thoughts, you are simply allowing them to pass unencumbered. 

Writing, on the other hand, you are chasing every thought. You are capturing all your thoughts. You are making connections with all your thoughts.  You are analyzing them and diving into them and understanding why they are there. Writing, when it is flowing, can get you into that meditative state. Writing is the blend of exercising and meditation if that makes sense. 

You are working out your thinking muscle, which can apply to literally every part of your life from business to communicating with your friends. Like working out, you allow writing to be an outlet for your emotions. Before you yell at something, write. Combine it — go for a walk and then write. It is possibly the healthiest thing you can do. 

Writing is Finding Time to Think

We make decisions every day and we call that thinking, but it isn’t, really. It’s reacting. We are reacting to the surrounding environment. We are reacting to what people are telling us. We are reacting to our mood and emotions. 

Let’s be honest, in day-to-day life, we are not too far off from mindless zombies trying to get through our responsibilities and obligations so we can go home and lie down. We get through the day without analyzing or reflecting on what we’ve accomplished. 

Socrates says that the unexamined life is not worth living. He means that if you don’t take time to understand the decisions you made, then you don’t understand your goals, you don’t understand what you are living for, and you don’t have any wisdom to pass on before you die. 

If you block off some time to write, you will have prioritized time to think and examine your life. This is time to reflect on your previous experiences and what you’ve learned. This is the time to examine where you are in relation to the goals you want to achieve. This is time to record the ideas you want to share. 

And here is the most important thing: I rarely know how I feel about a topic until I write about it. Anything political, anything philosophical, and anything about art, I don’t truly know until I sit down and write about it. 

We all write for different reasons, but these are two reasons I write. Let me know why you write in the comments below. 

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Productivity beats positive thinking

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Relaxing and stressing won’t get the job done

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. November 11, 2014

When you’re stressed, you relax. Although it’s good to wind down after a long day, relaxing when a job or assignment is unfinished may actually cause more long-term stress.

The thin line between rewarding yourself and procrastinating is a harmful illusion we create for ourselves that may be stalling our overall progress in our professions and academics.

If you have a project due next week, you’d probably wait until the last possible moment to finish it like a normal person. Because of this, the project will remain in the back of your head throughout the week, occupying a stressful part of your brain. Then, after a given day of procrastination and concerning yourself with other activities, you’d want to relax; however, to do that you’d have to consciously avoid the idea of that very project. In doing so, you’ll end up thinking of it, hence the paradox of stress.

By avoiding the work assigned to you, you create unnecessary stress virtually out of thin air. If you were to finish the work as soon as possible, you’d instantly feel a relief incomparable to the “relaxation” you would have while procrastinating. Although you’d have the instant gratification of doing something enjoyable, your mind will be restless, knowing that there is something left unaccomplished.

Anxiety and stress cannot be tamed; they must be conquered. You’ll never be more ready to face your challenge than this moment right now, no matter how daunting it seems. If you have a big project, start it now—little steps will act as encouragement and motivation going forward. If you applied for a job, don’t simply sit back and play the waiting game: apply for another. By having more eggs in more baskets, your anxiety and stress will dampen should disappointment arise. If you have someone you want to ask out on a date, don’t strategize and stress over “what if” questions; just go, ask, and see what happens.

Stress is the natural response to the dangers of the world. It’s our animal instinct warning us that there are elements out there that will kill us. But that is not true in this day and age, where the things that stress us out are trivial rather than life threatening. Yet, we still feel that if we fail to do something we’ll be ripped apart, eaten alive. Once we are able to recognize that the threats are all in our head, we can sit down, work, or relax without the intrusion of stress.

People with frequent anxiety attacks hate the fact that people like me belittle their impairment, but I’m disappointed in the way they magnify the task at hand. They believe that by relaxing, avoiding the work, and sitting back, they will be better off in the end. That’s not true. Stress must be eliminated like rotting food. You clean the kitchen if it stinks wouldn’t you? The same goes with stress.