When the Pen is Mightier than the Shrink


Tina Su, at the excellent Think Simple Now talks about the power of pen and paper when it comes to getting your head straight: recently describing her busy life with a new home, and a new puppy, she wrote: "Last week, I came to a breaking point, “I’ve had it!!” I said to myself, and proceeded to spend the next 3 hours with my nose buried in a notepad, pen scribbling at accelerated speeds - as I collected and re-arranged my thoughts on paper.

As a result, I came up with an organized solution to solve my problem. I felt instantly relieved and no longer helpless, because now… I had a plan!"

I can relate. Recently I've been juggling a massive study project with writing for my blog, getting my laptop fixed, finding heating for my outside office, and all the usual family stuff, like housework, nursing a guinea pig with a skin condition etc.

Spilling Mental Overload on the Page

The hardest part is that we can't do it all at once. Everything has stages to it, and sometimes those stages are complex and overlapping. My usual first action once I realise I'm suffering from a cluttered head is to sit down with a pen and big piece of paper and pour out my thoughts. At first it all tumbles out of my pen in a heap of "shoulds", "musts", and "need tos", with a liberal sprinkling of "buts".

It's embarrassing really, but better to have the conversation in the privacy of your own notepad! The next stage feels much better. I begin to see where my priorities lay and where I can take action. Even more importantly, I get back in touch with my purpose.

Why do I do what I'm doing? And how can I keep it going? Putting things on paper frees up huge amounts of mental energy. It gets you in touch with yourself and where you're going, and if you've wandered off track or you're sitting on the side of a path feeling confused, writing out your thoughts and feelings will help you start putting one foot in front of the other again.

How to Write Your Way to Clarity

Take yourself away somewhere, outside, another room, a library, coffee shop, park - just somewhere else than where you are when your head is in a funk.

Grab a pen and a piece of paper. Scrap is fine, you may want to eat it or burn it afterwards! Now write your honest thoughts and feelings, take a deep breath and go. The mess, the stress, get it all down in your wildest, worst writing possible. (This part always makes me feel particularly naughty and liberated - as my "spidery little writing" - so often tutted at by dear mother who writes in CAPITALS for the sake of neatness - gets to run wild across the page).

Once it's there on the page take a look over it and you will begin to see patterns, and places where you can make adjustments, or make a start in getting something done. With that noticing, comes the relief of a tidier mind and the sense of power that you have a plan and you can go on...

Photo by mezone


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