You Only Have Today: Writing as Thinking

Writing is one of those activities, at least for me, that I always feel I can get done later. Its fine if I am not productive in this session because I have tomorrow and catch up. But the reality is, as my mentor and friend points out regularly , writing is often times how we think . We never actually know what we are thinking until we put it down on paper. The very act of putting words on the screen (or paper if your so inclined) formulates thoughts in our brain that continually builds on each other.

You can’t get this time back.

Many times I’ve turned in a paper only to think a week, two weeks, and a month later of new ideas, new connections, better application, and so forth. But I was never able to get to that stage because I was working up to the last minute. Always, looking back, I can think back to the days where I allowed distractions to seep in and think, “well I have tomorrow or this weekend to get some writing done.”

Sure, I made the due date and turned in the paper on time…

But it was not my best product because I hadn’t allowed time for these ideas and arguments to gestate.

Instead, I kept these ideas and thoughts in my head but never got them on paper to actually think about it. I listened to the lie that I can just think about something and figure it out. But the act of writing is what helps me think and push forward. Don’t think of writing only in terms of final production but as an activity that forms your thoughts, makes connections, and ultimately produces your best work.

So, as I encourage myself and you today, put words on paper to allow you to think through your argument or idea. Make progress, daily progress, you’ll be better for it. Don’t fall into the trap of leaving it all in your head and think you’ll be fine.

Yes, you’ll always have tomorrow (until the due date!) but to produce your best work you can never gain back today.

One book that has helped me greatly in this area is Deep Work by Cal Newport. I highly suggest you check it out.

For other related posts on writing see: