How do you feel after you spend an hour or two writing?
Do you feel relaxed, energized, or even more inspired than when you started? You aren’t alone.
Many people report that writing has an impact on the how they feel, their thought processes, and even how they view things.
Clearly writing influences the brain in more ways than many of us realize. So, let’s take a look at the different ways in which writing impacts the mind.
1. Writing improves memory
List-makers! If you aren’t one, you probably know somebody who is.
Have you ever written a to-do list or jotted down a phone number only to find out later, when you needed to recall it, that you had it memorized? This happens for a reason.
When you write something down, you are firing up a group of cells in your temporal lobe known as the reticular activating system. The result is that your brain intensifies the amount of focus on the information that you are writing down.
2. While we’re talking about writing and the brain, let’s discuss clichés
Have you ever read something that was so full of clichés that it felt as if your brain was turning to mush? Well, as it turns out, your brain was actually turning to mush.
Okay, your brain wasn’t actually turning to mush, but the act of reading and writing clichés actually diminishes your brains ability to be stimulated by visual language elements such as sensory language and metaphors.
Not that you needed a reason to avoid clichés anyway.
3. Journaling for better health
Many of us keep a journal to record events of the day, hash our feelings out on paper, and to record writing ideas for future use.
We know that journaling is cathartic and helps us process things that are traumatic, upsetting, or stressful, but the benefits of journaling go much further than that!
Did you know that researchers at the University of Texas have discovered that journaling increases the strength of T-Lymphocytes? These are immune cells that help your body to fight off infection.
There is also scientific proof that writing in a journal engages the left side of your brain. You would think that would leave the creative, right side of your brain neglected, wouldn’t you?
As it happens, this isn’t the case at all. When the left brain is occupied, the right brain is able to wake up and do its thing which is to create, fantasize and feel. Isn’t that neat?
4. The impact of writing on intelligence
How could we talk about writing and the brain without bringing up the simple fact that writing makes you smarter?
For one thing, writing improves clarity in a way that verbal communication simply does not. This is because writing about a topic requires a firmer grasp of that topic than talking about it. You have to think something through, organize the thoughts in your head, and then write them down.
If you are a writer, you probably have a great vocabulary. You can thank your writing for that as well.
As we write, we become very aware of redundancies. We become aware of words and phrases that we tend to use over and over again. We recognize this tendency as something that is not only boring to our readers, but also boring to us as writers. This motivates us to find new words to use.
When this happens, we increase our vocabulary.
5. Step away from the keyboard!
How many legal pads, notebooks, and sketchbooks are in your desk right now? How many pens are there? How many colors? If you answered “a lot,” you may be a stationery addict.
That may not be bad news. The physical act of writing with a pen and paper engages your brain in three different ways. You utilize your fine motor skills to grip the pen and write, your brain works to recall the lines and shapes involved in forming each letter, and you see each letter and word as you form it on the brain.
So, if you can’t make it past an office supply store without hitting the stationery section, don’t fret. You’re actually on to something that your keyboard jockey friends have missed.
6. Writing to Improve Writing
Everybody knows that reading a variety of stimulating material contributes to make us all better writers, but what can the act of writing do to boost our writing game?
The most important action any writer can take to improve their writing skills is to write as often as they can.
The reason for this is simple. Ideas spawn writing and writing spawns ideas.
Think of it like this, how many times have you thought of ideas for new writing projects while you were in the midst of working on another project?
The ideas for the new projects might not even relate to the project you were working on, but the writing process kicks your brain in gear. That’s what causes the ideas to flow and multiply.
7. Got a problem? Writing helps
The way to solve a problem is to understand the problem, research the details, and identify solutions. What could be more useful during that process than writing?
Writing the problem down on paper helps you fully grasp what you are dealing with. Researching the details means you’ll be taking lots of notes.
Finally, what better way is there to identify solutions than holding a brain storming session down to get everything on paper?
Incorporating writing into your problem solving efforts doesn’t just improve your ability to solve the problem at hand, it also improves your ability to solve problems in the future.