Sunday, November 12, 2017

Complex writing is good for you (or why I'm writing every day this month)

There isn't a lot of routine to my home life. I'm not rigid when it comes to meal times (although I do like to cook from scratch). I'm not a morning person at the best of times so work related tasks drift into the evening, especially now that the weather is cold and miserable. My work tends to come in fits and starts - it's the well-known feast or famine scenario. I think that suits my personality most of the time but not necessarily all of the time.

In very busy times, or particularly stressful times, I can and do adopt a more regimented routine and I've used the Fabulous app successfully to help me with that. One of the tasks that it has you doing every day is a to do list. They recommend strongly that you write this down by hand and not on a computer or phone. There's something about the act of writing by hand that is perhaps more mindful than typing. And maybe it connects to the brain differently. I'm not sure. Either way, when I've done this routine, it does work and has helped me maintain focus and manage a heavy workload. 

Writing by hand is also a key part of the famous book, The Artist's Way. A friend recommended the book to me some years ago. I've never managed to work through the whole thing as it takes commitment and I'm not quite ready to commit to being an artist (What is my media? Will my work be good enough? How will I pay the bills? And lots of other questions immediately spring to mind. And yes, I know that's what the book can help you answer!). 

One of the key tasks of The Artist's Way is to write your morning pages, by hand, stream of consciousness style, until you have written at least 3 sides of paper. This can be about anything at all but it's a recognised way of dealing with whatever is on your mind at the time whether that's what the weather's doing or because you've had a run-in with someone. There are times when I've started the process and done a few days or a couple of weeks, but never stuck with it. And once I've dropped the ball on it, I've never picked it up. Oliver Burkeman writes more about how he used them and how they're being used by business people too.

Despite my penchant for Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, I have held on to this blog over the years and still see long form writing as important. That's one of the reasons why I committed to doing the NaBloPoMo thing this November by writing a blog post every day. I think it's healthy for me to write something every day, partly down to the routine and discipline of it but also because it helps me think things through in more depth.  

It turns out that complex thinking is inextricably intertwined with writing. According to this article from TES, if you discourage extended writing, you can damage deeper thought. And if we need anything right now in this age of instant gratification and algorithms making decisions for us, it is deeper thought! So on day 12 of this NaBloPoMo experiment, I'm reassured that I might just be on to something.

Day 12/30 NaBloPoMo 

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