I have found that whenever I wish to learn something, the physical act of writing it down helps me consolidate my understanding and aids my recall.
A great example of this is when I started to collect quotes that I found inspiring and motivating. After several years I was over-run with quotes and decided to weed my collection out. Using a blank journal I physically wrote out every quote that meant something to me on a deep level. When reading a quote I contemplate it deeply and spend time with the quote to fully understand it.
In addition to writing every quote out, I gave each one a reference comprising the initials of the author and a number. The reason I did this was to highlight exactly who I found to be the most inspiring. I collected hundreds of quotes with the proviso they must be 100% positive and resonate within me every time I read them. Trends appeared; the same authors would crop up; similar themes would arise, I felt I was making progress 🙂
The real progress came after physically writing all the quotes out. I found that my understanding really deepened. In addition to a greater appreciation of the words I increased my recall ability and enforced the very themes that made huge differences to me within and without.
So which authors kept appearing? Dozens of sources later several prominent authors stood out, including:
Anthony de Mello
Don Miguel Ruiz
What themes kept arising? Many trends and themes could be seen yet two really stood out:
Stop Thinking (Specifically; the impact our thoughts have and the downside of over-thinking)
I decided to read everything I could by these authors. I immersed myself in how they “thought” – what was behind the writing – essentially, asking; how do they think! Instead of “believing” blindly what I read; I wanted to experience first hand, asking – is it true for me? I reached a point where I was overdosing on content and it was time for simplicity. I chunked down and condensed what I was reading and learning to see if I could capture and clarify the main points of what I wanted to learn. Over-run with questions; writing it down or mindmapping is a must! It helps eliminate the questions.
I read that affirmations are very useful and tried many in addition to writing out the quotes. Affirmations only work if you feel committed inside otherwise they remain just words. So, whilst helpful, I stuck with writing out the quotes over the course of many months. I still have the journal today and refer to it often.
Since a young age I have always been a keen reader. I have a pretty ruthless reading style. Books have a chapter or two to convince me to read more or I move on to something else. The reason for this is simple; there are millions of books available and it can be tough to know what to read. My questions were “is this adding value?” and “am I learning something new here?”. Why waste time reading something that is not helping you? I also dropped fiction!
Mind Maps add an extra dimension to physically writing out what you wish to learn; the images and creativity, to me, are like the hammer knocking the nail home! If you try to explain what an elephant is to someone who has never seen one and use words alone it has far less impact than showing someone an image! If you wish to know more about elephants, writing or mindmapping about them will deepen your knowledge whether using someone else’s words or your own.
Repetition of the process can help – not everyone can absorb information first time round. Deconstruction of key elements and chunking down for recall also provide deeper comprehension. A great way to test yourself is to hide the text and write it out from memory to see how much you have recalled and retained.
Acronyms helped me enormously – far easier to recall a few letters that represent words. Writing or mindmapping out your experiences, thoughts and feelings also helps you “free up” your mind.
I hope this mind map and the tips above encourage you to try the technique of “To Learn it Write it”
The very best way to explore this powerful method is to jump right in and try it. See if it works for you.