The Power of Writing Things Down


I’m someone who forgets things if I don’t write them down. Anything from a doctor’s appointment to a brilliantly creative idea – I have to scribble it on something near me or it will be lost in the ether forever. I used to hate that fact about myself; I thought it made me weaker, or less competent. But last week, as I was on a plane ride home from a very full weekend of yoga, seeing old friends and I had many life discussions that started with the question “wouldn’t it be just so great if we could …” I felt the urge to start writing. Turns out, forgetting my headphones for the weekend trip ended up being a blessing in disguise.

It was more scribbling than actual writing. But as I half journaled and half organized my thoughts into something a bit more tangible, I thought about how important this exercise actually was. It wasn’t just something to do to kill time on a flight. I know it’s not something that I do enough, and I’m pretty sure collectively we could all stand to do it a little bit more.

Whether you write to be creative, productive, to remember someone’s name or when your next bill is due, as a means of therapy or because it’s cathartic, writing physically forces you to confront your thoughts and slow down long enough to get the words on paper.

The more I thought about it and the more I wrote down my thoughts about the value of writing things down (how meta, right?), the more clearly I saw all the benefits. These are completely my ramblings, so I’m sure there are hundreds more that I’m not diving into here.

In the creativity realm, writing bits and pieces of ideas down as they come, no matter how potentially great or undoubtedly terrible they are, aids in creative thinking. It helps you either see something more clearly, or gets blurry ideas out of the way to foster more growth for the clearer thoughts in your brain. Not to mention the power of your own handwriting looking back at you. You get to see your brain at work, and that’s something you can be proud of.

As far as productivity is concerned, I write out lists all the time. To-do lists, to-buy lists, goals and plans. But sometimes I feel like if I write it down and I don’t accomplish it, I’ve failed myself. But that makes me refrain from actually going for it in the first place. If I’m being totally critical of myself, I think it allows me to skate by. The way I’ve come to see it, it’s better to set those deadlines and goals for yourself and have to break them, then never set them and just let your goals keep resting out of reach as other things take precedent.

Perhaps the most underutilized reason for writing, for catharsis, has actually been my go-to in the past few months of struggle. I never wrote in journals growing up because I thought it would be silly to start and not keep it up. But the truth is, it doesn’t matter when or for how long you write. And it doesn’t matter if you ever end up reading what you’ve written. One of the most freeing things I’ve realized lately is that I can scribble without any necessary outcome, but with all the potential for some kind of cathartic release. It is truly a no-risk activity.

Finally, writing is therapeutic. To me, it’s like a positive feedback loop. By putting my positive thoughts that I want to spend more time thinking about out there, it helps me cultivate even more of those positive thoughts and actions. And lastly, to be alone with your thoughts is not always an easy thing to do, but it does help you to get to the heart of how you’re actually feeling, much like a form of meditation.

Strangely enough, even though I’ve come to realize that writing can make me more productive, more creative and more level-headed, it’s the first thing that goes when my day gets crazy. So for the next month, no matter what else might get in the way, I’m going to make it a priority to write these few things down. If you’ve got the time (or want to make the time), join me! And if you’ve got any additions to the daily questions, shout them out! I’d love to incorporate more.

What is one thing you’re excited about today? 

What is one thing you want to accomplish today? 

What is one thing you remember particularly fondly from yesterday?

What is something you learned yesterday you can be actionable about today?

What is your dream job? Answer it – every day!

 What will you do today to get you one mini-step closer to that dream job?

Is there anything you can do to make someone else’s day today?

How do you feel in this very moment?

How do you want to feel at the end of the day?

What’s one thing you love about yourself?

What’s one random thought or feeling you want to write to remember, or get on paper to get rid of?

At Home Live Mindfulness Think & Feel

About Maggie Umberger

Maggie moved to Chicago from North Carolina in 2014 with a degree in Journalism and Spanish, a 200-hour yoga certification, a group fitness cert and a passion to teach and to sweat. It wasn't until she found aSweatLife that she really started to feel at home. Here, she's incorporated her passion for health and wellness into her career as she helps to build the network of Ambassadors, trainers and fitness enthusiasts that exist within the aSweatLife ecosystem. You can also find her coaching at CrossTown Fitness and teaching yoga classes at Bare Feet Power Yoga, Yoga Six and exhale.