Jeremy Côté

Muddled Thinking

Have you ever tried to express a thought and found yourself at a loss for words?

Have you ever had a crisp idea in your mind that seems so obvious to you, but when you actually tried to articulate it to someone, they came away with none of the clarity you had?

If so, that’s a problem of communication.

More specifically, it’s a consequence of being unable to organize your thoughts. This is a harsh way to say it, but it captures a key idea. If you can’t communicate an idea, is it any good?

An activity like writing might seem like a waste of time. Why should I spend a ton of time putting words on a page when I can just come up with whatever I want to say on the spot? Moreover, why would I spend the time to actually edit that stream of consciousness? It just seems like a bunch of extra work that I don’t want to do.

Taking the time to organize your thoughts might feel annoying, but it’s actually a great way to become a better thinker. A wonderful thing happens when you edit and organize your thinking: Your thoughts themselves become more ordered. When you spend the time to improve your thoughts in written form, you gain a sense of perspective. Things are less muddled, and they “come out” right on the first try more often.

As such, writing is one of the best habits you can take up.

Writing can take many different forms. In fact, “writing” might not be the right word. Rather, the idea is to capture your thoughts in some medium that is outside of your mind, allowing you to look at it with a critical eye. The powerful moment comes when you can see your thoughts and reflect on them without having to simultaneously recall them.

When you see your thoughts laid bare on the page, it becomes clear how your mind is thinking. There’s a an inherent fluidity to your thoughts when they are in your mind. They can change and morph according to your whims and emotions. However, once you take the time to solidify them in another medium, you can actually begin the work of making them better.

This isn’t a sales pitch for writing. It’s a sales pitch for improving both your thinking and communication. Whatever form the latter takes, it’s beneficial to improve how you think. By writing (and then editing!), you’re giving yourself a chance to spread your ideas to other people. That’s a goal I think everyone has.

Invest in the time to improve your thinking by writing. It’s difficult at first, but you will soon see your thoughts start to clear without as much effort. That’s when you can really make a difference and affect people with your words.

Writing is the key to getting there.