Thursday, 14 January 2021

HOW DOES INSIGHT EMERGE

How does insight emerge? How is it formed? Where is it formed? And how can it be got out of the mind?

I have one simple answer to these questions.

Write.

Yes, the process of finding insight is literally to take it out of your mind and to put it outside your mind.

Take a pen and paper. Open up your laptop or iPad and write.

Write down what you are thinking. Write down what you want to think. Write down what someone told you to think. Write down what you told someone to think about. Write, and insights will come.

Writing is essential. It is the only way insights can form. I am not exaggerating. Even now when I am writing this, my mind is helping clarify thoughts I have on how insight emerges. My insight about insight is developing as I write these words.

Writing forces one to think and clarify concepts that are swirling in the mind. In doing so, writing provides the fastest way to develop insight.

It can be any form of writing. It can be in a physical paper note pad, it can be digital. In digital it can be in any format. A text file, a slide deck, a sheet with numbers. Anything works.

Read. And after reading, write

There are other aspects that help with the process of finding insight.

Reading is important as well. But, not as much as writing. My assumption here is one who is on the quest for insight, is naturally going to be a reader. A consumer of information. So that will be a natural process. It is not something that needs to be debated or told.

But after reading, getting out a pad, and writing about it, may not be an obvious action for most. In fact, I will guess that most do not do this. Many people are expecting to come up with something insightful just by thinking in their minds about what they have read. This very rarely works.

Writing is engaging

The process of engaging in writing, when the body is mostly stationary and the mind is nimble, is ideal. There is something about this.

One can observe that it is possible to talk while walking. It is possible to eat while walking. It is also possible to think while walking. In fact, a lot of thinking actually happens when one is walking. Movement is great, don't get me wrong. It might even help to move before getting to the act of writing.

But one cannot write while walking. Well, nothing beyond a short scribble, maybe.
So in some ways, one needs to be stationary, to write. Sitting or standing.

Writing is connecting, simplifying, and solidifying

Writing is an essential and necessary step to help the brain form connections. And from those connections come the insights.

The mind is always making connections, even when you are not writing. But, this kind of connection is at best temporary. It is flimsy and not yet well-formed. But when you write about it, the connections become stronger. Both on the writing apparatus, but also interestingly in the mind.

James Clear observes, "To simplify before you understand the details is ignorance. To simplify after you understand the details is genius".

By just thinking or reading, and not writing, we are trying to simplify before we have understood the details. This is a state of ignorance and no real insight comes from there.

But when we write, we have better understood the details. This is when real insight emerges from.

Basically, writing connects simplifies, and solidifies concepts that are in the mind. And from this fertile base, which is connected, simple and solid, insights can germinate, take root, and sprout.

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