By the time you finish reading this your brain will have burned through roughly 5 calories.
That’s because the human brain goes through an average of 1.5 calories a minute, using up glucose to fire neurons and send electrical signals back and forth between the millions and millions of tiny networks throughout your head and body.
While it may not seem like much, the constant processing your brain does can take a toll. Consider the last time you had to study for a big project, or when you were so intently focused on something that your head began to hurt. After only a few minutes of deep concentration, your brain can start to tire and the connections can slow down. Your body will start to reserve energy for thinking by exhausting other systems, which is why you might feel physically exhausted after a long day at work or school.
Thinking can be exhausting.
Fortunately, free writing can make processing ideas in your brain a little easier. In-fact: free writing is known to be stress-relieving and idea generating at the same time. How’s it work exactly?
When you sit down to get your thoughts out on paper (or in a digital notepad), you do two essential things for creative thinking: the first is that you focus your attention on just one topic, which means your brain doesn’t have to stress making too many connections at the same time. By focusing on whatever it is you’re writing, you are dedicating more parts of your brain to working through a singular idea or problem. Because of the forced focus, free writing is the easiest way to explore thoughts.
The second thing that occurs when you free write is that you feel an unburdening of thoughts. When you express your thoughts in a physical way that you can visually see, your brain tends to “let go” of those same thoughts. Think of it as unloading thoughts that would otherwise take up room in your brain.
These two things alone explain why free writing can make you feel good and help alleviate some of the stress and exhaustion that comes from thinking so hard.
To get the most out of free writing, consider setting a timer for at least 15 minutes, or setting a goal to reach a certain number of words every single day. I like to use 750 Words for my daily dose of free writing, but there are plenty of other apps and websites you can use to write. You don’t even need any fancy software or tools, just grab a sheet of paper and a pencil or open up the notebook app on your computer and start writing.
Get some thoughts out on paper right now, without worrying about grammar or punctuation or a specific topic. Write to explore what’s going on in your brain, and you’ll not only feel better, but you may discover new ideas along the way. In-fact, this entire article was inspired by a free writing session I had the other day.