Why I Write

Black male executive writing on paper sheet near laptop

Writing is a brain-boosting activity that forces me to engage many different parts of the mind. Whether I’m constructing a list or letting fictional prose flow, the act of writing is extremely beneficial for my cognitive function. I try to stay in the habit of sitting down and writing on a regular basis as a fun and effective way to keep my mind sharp.

Keeping My Mind Active

Daily writing helps my brain stay active and engaged. This isn’t a passive activity like swimming or walking where I can let the mind wander aimlessly. When I’m writing, my brain is occupied with the process of shaping thoughts, choosing words, and constructing sentences.

Challenging my brain to work through this type of mental exercise is similar to putting my physical muscles through their paces. Performing these activities regularly strengthens the individual brain cells as well as the connections between them.

Improve/Maintain My Cognitive Function

Writing improves cognitive function, forcing the brain to think through matters in a logical manner. This effect is enhanced when I’m writing by hand with pen and paper rather than typing. Writing stimulates the Reticular Activating System, which filters through the many topics that my brain is processing and determines which points to bring to the forefront. It also promotes cognitive function and reinforces recall.

Keep My Senses Engaged

Writing mindfully can become a very sensory activity. If I’m struggling to come up with content, I go on an outing and challenge myself to pay close attention to what I see, smell, hear, taste, and feel. Engaging different senses will encourage growth in different parts of the brain. For example, people who pair memories with particular smells strengthen the piriform cortex.

As I write, I consider how all five senses are involved in my piece. This is an approach that I can use for both fiction and non-fiction works.

Recording Key Information

If I focus my daily writing practice on real-life events, this activity will help me improve my overall retention of this information. For keeping my mind sharp, this can be a powerful way to reinforce key pieces of information. I tailor my daily writing activities to suit my personal needs at different times.

If I’m struggling to recall the details of my day-to-day activities, I engage in a daily habit that involves writing down what I accomplished each day. I first come up with a short list of prompts that I answer in each writing session. At some point, if I should become more concerned with my long-term recall, I will begin working on my memoirs; choosing a significant time in my life and begin writing about the details of what I experienced.

Not only will I have this information for my own future reference, but my children and grandchildren can hold onto it as well. This record of stories and memories could become a treasured keepsake that’s passed down through the family.

Encourage Concentration

One must concentrate when writing, regardless of the topic. While pursuing an academic focus, I worked on academic writing projects. My daily writing doesn’t need to come in the form of journal entries, I could also choose to research a topic of interest and condense the information into shareable articles or blog posts.

I engage in writing on any topic and form imaginable. This activity is easily customizable, so I can make it exactly what I need it to be at any given time. Writing in any form supports the key intellectual aspect of wellbeing, but it can promote other important parts of your wellbeing too. Releasing my thoughts onto paper also helps with emotional and spiritual wellness.

Improve Retention

When I take the time to write down key information, I’m increasing my brain’s ability to retain those details. This is especially effective if I write the information down on paper rather than typing it into my phone or computer. I keep a small notebook with me at all times for jotting down important notes. I can reference this later for reminders of topics that I want to research further or activities I wanted to try.

Increasing My Brain’s Plasticity

Brain plasticity is the brain’s ability to form new neural pathways where there were none before. While it’s important to strengthen existing pathways, reinforcing my ability to generate new ones is powerful as well. I try to keep my brain sharp, active, and ready to generate new information quickly and efficiently by making a conscious effort to write every day. The routine nature of daily practice further enhances this effect.

I created an environment that’s conducive to my writing practice to best support this habit. I have a space in my apartment for a dedicated writing desk that I can settle into each afternoon. I also have a special spot outdoors where I can settle in with a pen and notebook.

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