Think About It – Dr. Howard Hendricks
“Thoughts untangle themselves over the lips and through the fingertips.”
– Dr. Howard Hendricks
I figured I’d start out our Thought-Provoking Thursdays with a quote that’s dear to my heart. Dr. Howard Hendricks, a man I and the rest of my classmates affectionately called “Prof,” was one of the most influential people in my life. This little nugget was particularly impactful when I heard it, and gave even more validity to the value I already placed on writing and intelligent conversation.
Thoughts Untangle Themselves
The simple truth here is that our nonverbal brains are really just a bunch of chaotic firing neurons. Our thoughts don’t have anything nearly like structure, they just “are.” Each thought is like someone tossing a rubber bouncy ball into our skull, and it’s going to end up somewhere…we’re just not sure where.
That is where language comes in. The structure of language, whether it be the written word or the spoken one, or even, in many cases, the inner monologue, all give form to the thoughts that would otherwise bounce around free in our brains. Language forces the thoughts to untangle themselves.
We take the act of engaging language very much for granted. It starts young, and then, as our brains develop in childhood, we develop questions, the inner monologue, abstract logic, etc.–all a function of language.
So why point this out?
Because language is one of the greatest tools we have in our toolbox for figuring out solutions, driving out concerns, planning our next steps, and conceiving new ideas. For me, as a writer, I find that when I’m stuck in my work the very best way out is to talk through what I’m doing, and where I want to go. Sometimes this happens with a friend, sometimes with a pen in hand, sometimes it just happens through my fingers on the keyboard, or speaking into dictation software.
Giving a voice and structure to my thoughts is the greatest weapon I have against writer’s block (though I prefer to call it “writer’s anxiety”), and it is the driving force behind whether I will keep working or get stuck in the swamps. When I give them form, I find that the thoughts tend to untangle themselves.
What about you? Do you use your words to help work through the thoughts in your head, or do you tend to internalize? Are you a talker? Why?