I was watching a lecture recently from a writer I’ve come to admire. He mentioned that his first book took him 15 years to write, working on it three hours a day.
This made me think about how clear my thinking would be on a topic, and how impressive I’d sound when speaking about it, if I spent this amount of time writing about it. Writing is this incredibly focusing experience. Unlike this blog, if you’re doing more than just writing down your quick take on things and really trying to figure stuff out your work as a writer is coupled with lots of thinking and reading and careful mental craftsmanship.
Unless you’re a tenured professor, very few humans have 3 hours per day x 15 years to work on the strength of their ideas. I’d argue that the average person’s position on a topic would be rendered pretty feeble if he were forced to argue for it against someone else who’d thought about the opposing viewpoint in a methodical way for a period of time. I guess there are some positions that seem so strong in one direction that perhaps this is not the case but a lot of life is complicated and I know I sit somewhere in the middle on a number of issues.
My point in all this is that writing is such a powerful mental knife sharpener.
Most of us have to work for someone else and this work takes up a lot of our mental energy and preoccupies us.
The good news: We don’t need three hours a day and fifteen years. Clarity can begin after just one session of journaling for 10 minutes.
If we figured out a way to spend even five minutes journaling about our thoughts on important subjects a few days per week, in a purposeful way (i.e. with the intention of mapping out our thoughts on something), as if on a journey over a long period of time to reach more clarity on our beliefs, we’d be on a very reliable path towards greater mental clarity.