Tell me about it


One of my favourite writers put it in a novel like this: ‘it’s incredible how writing helps me think’.
It might sound silly at first; theoretically we first think, then write! And for your exams this is precisely what you should do! But has it ever happened to you that way into your essay, or report, or email, you realise or discover things that make you change what you were writing?

Writing is a process, more than a text that you look at when you’re finished. First of all, there are steps you do when writing: first you ask yourself what you are trying to achieve with your text, then you collect your information or ideas, after that you organise them and plan the time you need to write and the number of pages / paragraphs etc you need to cover. Next, you start writing – sometimes in several stages of drafting and redrafting – and finally you check for improper wording or for clumsy composition. But there’s one more thing about writing that results from its dynamic, process-nature: on your way to the final form of your text various things may happen: a word makes you remember something you have experienced, which helps you relate to your topic better; a chain of arguments makes you discover a deeper, crucial argument; a set of facts and figures makes you realise the essence of a problem and points to its solution; you realise you’re not ordering your ideas effectively enough, or even that your arguments won’t hold water. That’s how writing helps us think.

But it’s not just writing. Speaking does it too. One of my friends years ago was my favourite ‘psychoanalysis’ partner. Whenever we were together, we used to discuss our problems, frustrations, joys etc in detail, and very often we discovered, in the thick of our talks, that in fact we’d judged someone wrong, or we’d misinterpreted someone’s words, or simply that we’d given too much significance to a coincidence. I sometimes refused to talk about something because I felt that by talking about it I was giving that issue more importance than I wanted.

Speaking is more than exchanging ideas. Speaking, like writing, is a way of diving into your own perceptions and of trying to put some order in them. And that order becomes suddenly visible when we hear ourselves saying things, or watch our words appear on the paper.

Have you ever seen things in a different light while you were talking or writing about something? Has writing or speaking ever helped you understand, evaluate or identify something?

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