I have a lot of thoughts. A LOT. Even at times, like now, when I feel physically slowed-down, and the opposite of the manic times last year, my brain very rarely shuts up, and I don’t want it to. I like thinking. It’s what I’m good at.
But sometimes, when I get a lot of new information, or something big happens that I need to process, I end up with too many thoughts, and they crowd each other, and trip each other up, and I find it hard to examine any of them properly because the rest are clamouring for attention, and I don’t want to miss any out or forget them.
And it gets worse if I try to share those thoughts, because in conversation, I’ve not just got the distraction of my own busy brain to contend with, but everyone else’s too – I have to try and focus on who I’m speaking to, work out if they’re following what I’m saying, and I have to remember where I’m up to in what I wanted to convey, and try not to miss anything out, or tell it in the wrong order so it doesn’t make sense, and allow for interruptions or distractions, or sometimes just realising that I’ve been talking for too long and it’s time to shut up and let someone else get a word in.
So I write.
Writing, firstly, helps me to organise my own thoughts. It lets me rearrange them into a logical order, and pin them down so they can’t escape, or wriggle about so much I can’t see them clearly. It lets me spend time considering them, and following up on the interesting ones, and when this process leads to new thoughts and ideas, it gives me room to add those in without losing track. It allows me to backtrack, to go over what’s already there and see if there’s anything missing, or anything that seems out of place. It lets me save a half-formed thought and return to it when my brain’s finished its subconscious processing, and it lets me link different thought-chains together until I have a complete picture.
And then I can share it. For me, sharing by writing is just simpler and more logical than trying to do it any other way. Because reading is the easiest way for me to assimilate a lot of information, so I automatically assume it’s the same for others. And because I feel that in sharing a piece of writing I’m giving people the leisure to take it in at their own pace, and when it suits them. And because when I’ve spent the time crafting it, and carefully choosing the right words, I’m confident that it will say what I wanted to say, and that all the necessary information is there.
But I do know people who don’t find it easy to take in information that way, or who get intimidated by a huge number of words. And I admit that I find it hard to communicate sometimes, because the idea of not enjoying reading is so alien to me that I have difficulty imagining myself in that person’s head, and working out how to get all my thoughts from my mind to theirs. Once I’ve got everything organised in my brain, in theory I could then tell it out loud, but it would feel very repetitive and time-consuming, and I feel like I’m then not allowing time for all the new thoughts which would arrive in the meantime.
Of course, not everything I write is earth-shatteringly important, so most of it doesn’t matter too much if it doesn’t get read. But when I have something big to tell, I’m going to want to do it properly – and for me, that will always mean writing it.