I Think in Words…

At the top of my website/blog, I have a Kaye Ryan quote, “The only real access that I have to my mind is when I’m writing.

I chose that quote because it felt like something that I’ve long thought and felt about my own relationship to writing (and reading).

As a child, I was an avid re-reader of books. And, I do mean re-reader. It would take a lot of encouragement from the adults around me to get me to try a new author or book. But if they recommended something I liked, I read everything in that series repeatedly rather than trying another new author. (Fortunately, I outgrew that.)

I have no idea how many times I read Laura Ingalls Wilder, Marguerite Henry, Walter Farley, Louis L’Amour, James Herriot, Carolyn Keene, Kathryn Kenny, or Agatha Christie. But, I’m fairly certain I could recite several passages verbatim with a little prompting.

I also kept a diary and a notebook with me almost all the time. Sometimes I drew little sketches, but I was never much of an artist. Mostly, I wrote down what I’d dreamt about the night before or made lists of pros and cons for just about every decision I faced.

I wasn’t much of a fiction writer as a child, mostly because it never occurred to me that I could tell stories like the ones in my favorite books.

But, I’d regularly try acting out scenes from my favorite books or movies, particularly if I could incorporate my horse into some of my pretending.

I’m still someone who thinks more clearly about a pending decision if I can write out a list of pros and cons. And, I often don’t quite know how I feel about some political topic or social issue until I’ve read about it and then spend time writing about what I’ve read.

Often, I haven’t fully synthesized what I’ve read until I’m rephrasing it into my own wording or trying to poke holes in an argument that doesn’t quite make sense to me.

I also find that I start getting irritable and my anxiety/depression get worse the longer I go without writing. Fortunately, I’ve also learned that I can counter those trends just by taking five or ten minutes each day to write a short journal entry. Even if that entry is nothing other than a list of things I need to do that day or a rant about how badly I slept or what a terrible person I think I am, just getting some words written down will improve my mood and help me feel a bit more focused and capable of taking on my day.

And, although my grad-schools days of thinking big thoughts are over, I still think better with a pen in hand or a keyboard nearby. I know that doesn’t make sense to everyone. And, some people would be uncomfortable if I suggested that they write about their worries or a big decision. For people not used to journaling, the idea of starting a journal can be daunting.

I’ve never been sure if my reliance on writing out my thoughts is because of all the books I read and re-read as a child, if it’s because of all the years I spent in school, or if it’s just naturally how my brain works. But, it’s definitely how I do some of my best decision-making. Particularly when I feel stuck in a rut.

Are you someone who needs to write about things to make sense of them? Or, do you use another medium like sketching or painting as a way of processing your thoughts and emotions? If that is how you process information, why do you think that approach works for you?

Image Credit: Photo by Rachel Coyne on Unsplash

2 thoughts on “I Think in Words…

  1. I am still an avid re-reader of books. It’s like sinking into a hot tub. Also, I always seem to find a little something I missed the first several times. That’s why I have such a problem parting with books. I was an avid journal writer as well but got out of the habit when life with kids, etc. got crazy. Now that I’m retired, I should go back to it. I still have a couple of nearly empty journals from past attempts to start journaling again. Thanks for another great blog, cuz!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I still re-read too, Nadine. It’s definitely a comfort factor at times. And, like you, I often find details I missed before.

      I hope you do start journaling again.


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