Why Writing Improves Thinking
The author and journalist William Wheeler once said, “Good writing is clear thinking made visible.” Not only does good writing demonstrate your thinking skills, but it can also help you improve them.
The same ingredients required for a great piece of writing: reflection, analysis, creativity, the ability to connect and support ideas—are also key components of higher level thinking. The more you sharpen your writing skills, the more you enhance your ability to think critically, creatively, and clearly.
Writing and Critical Thinking
Critical thinking is defined as “the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgment.” This is a crucial skill in higher education and the workforce, and it’s closely tied to writing.
Good writing stretches your critical thinking muscles because it requires you to clearly express and explain your ideas. Good writers don’t simply state what they think; they also explain why they think it, which requires a deeper exploration and analysis of inner thoughts.
Instead of throwing a jumble of words and ideas on a piece of paper, writers must carefully consider which words to use in order to clearly organize these thoughts and convey them to others. Additionally, writing often requires us to formulate arguments, consider complex problems and solutions, and provide evidence to support our claims.
All of these processes necessitate critical thinking and ultimately strengthen the ability to think deeply and analytically.
Writing and Creativity
Writing is a form of creative expression, and the more we practice creativity, the more creative we become.
Through writing, you develop your voice, identity, and imagination. Even if you’re writing on a factual topic, you must find unique ways to string words together and put your thoughts to the page. When you produce a piece of writing, you create something that is an expression of you and your thoughts.
Creative thinking is an important skill in problem-solving, innovation, and leadership, all qualities that are essential to the modern workforce.
Writing and Clarity
When we write, we also clarify our thoughts. Writing requires reflection, and this naturally contributes to learning and discovery. As you write, you learn more about yourself and about the topic you’re exploring. Your ideas become clear and well-defined.
This process gives you the skills you need to think with clarity and to clearly communicate your ideas with others around you: friends, family, teachers, coworkers, or your boss.
By writing and reflecting, you’re able to map out large, complex problems and begin approaching resolutions. You also strengthen your knowledge and memory of a topic by writing it down and reflecting on what you’re writing.
Tips on Using Writing to Develop Thinking Skills
- Write about challenging and complex topics.
- Allow yourself to write creatively on anything that comes to mind, even if you simply journal about your day.
- Create outlines or mind maps that allow you to organize and connect your thoughts.
- Always support your claims and ideas with evidence. This trains your brain to structure strong arguments and thoroughly consider the reasoning behind your ideas.
- When you’re considering a problem or finding difficulty expressing an idea, try writing it out to unpack your thoughts and find clarity.
WriteLab brings together Natural Language Processing, Artificial Intelligence, and English Language Instruction. Student writing is analyzed in seconds with the WriteLab app—giving students feedback and suggestions on how to revise and polish their draft.