Why Write

June 8, 2018 · 3 minute read

I talk a lot sometimes. I may keep going on and on, to the point of annoying whoever that might be listening.

I’ve noticed that my talking-too-much and my feeling-anxious are related. That is, if I have too many conversations, I generally become a more anxious version of me, and, if I’m anxious I generally talk more. It can be a devastating loop!

Too Much Talk Makes me Anxious

Words have a way of capturing my attention. I get hooked when someone starts talking. There’s so much that can be learned from the way a person talks and I find myself absorbing a lot of information through conversations. And it’s not only the words either. I notice the face, the eyes, the hands and how the body moves when somebody talks.

As these observations accumulate, I start feeling anxious. I realize now, that this welling-up of anxiety, is a sign, telling me that I’ve absorbed too much. That the input has become overwhelming and that I need to either stop more input from entering my brain or I need to process what I observe, make sense of it, and reduce it into insights and understanding.

My natural tendency has always been to try and make sense of things as opposed to filtering out seemingly important information. “What does it all mean?” I might ask myself. What leads to what? and how I and the person I’m talking to, and everything and everybody else, fits into the bigger picture?

Anxiety Feeds Impulsive Talk

Not being able to simply retreat from a social situation to “think things through”, I turn to talking as a tool to make sense of what is happening. I think out loud. And that has consequences. Since I’m talking and trying to understand at the same time, my language can become incoherent and confusing to some people. It can become fragmented and unorganized. Furthermore, the premature communication of ideas, can kill them.

Talking just doesn’t seem to work sometimes. And when I notice that, I become even more anxious, and I try harder to explain things and the loop repeats itself.

(Careful) Writing Breaks the Loop

There is something about writing that makes it a far better tool for thinking and understanding the self and the world. We know that writing reduces anxiety and depression-related intrusive thoughts. We also know that these positive health consequences are related to the development of a “coherent narrative” about life.

Careful writing demands that we remember. It demands that we reflect upon our lives and to put together the fragmented, arbitrary observations. And when we do that, we start seeing for ourselves that there is in fact a cause/effect relationship that links our experiences.

I once read that depression is the illusion that whatever you do, wouldn’t matter. Writing might just be the tool to cut through the illusion.