The Path To Achieving Clarity Of Mind Starts With Pen And Paper

by Jessica Clayton

You know the zillions of thoughts in your head that seem to travel so fast and furiously they leave you feeling exhausted, anxious and overwhelmed?

How do you differentiate the mental junk from the prized jewels, all while shushing your rowdy mind?

One activity that helps me to organize my thoughts, develop my ideas and decipher my emotions is writing.

It might seem a little old-school to Millennials, but good old-fashioned pen and paper will create space in your mind for a stress-free day full of intention and clarity.

In fact, I did this exercise just a few weeks ago.

I hopped off the metro, shuffled into a just-as-packed coffee shop and wedged my thought-riddled self between two strangers in one of the few remaining seats.

I was ultimately headed to work, but among the DC nine-to-fivers engrossed in their own (pre)occupations, I needed to breathe and get my mind together.

I sat with my overwhelmed morning brain ping-ponging thoughts around in my head.

My mind danced, and it went something like this: “How am I going to lead an effective meeting at work today, when I want to talk about a billion different things?"

"I’m hungry.” “I want to write more often, and I need to figure out how.” “Of all the things on my to do list, what are my priorities?” “I need coffee.” “I feel overwhelmed and a bit lost at this moment, and I need to figure out what that’s about.” “I need to update my blog!”

“What are my passions in life, and how do I follow them?” “I need to remember that card for Father’s Day.” “I’m still hungry.” “Coffee.”

I pulled out my little black knock-off Moleskin notebook, a pen and magenta marker, and I wrote uninterruptedly for the next half an hour.

And boy, it helped. I made charts, lists, arrows and blurbs with underlines and pink scribbles.

I let it out, and by the time I was done, I felt calm, focused and physically lighter.

Regularly recording your thoughts on paper can help you become more certain about your passions, your priorities, how you plan to pursue those priorities, what emotions you’re feeling and what in the mother-loving hell they’re all about anyway.

Writing is also, and just as importantly, a creative outlet.


First and foremost, putting pen to paper helps create mental clarity by funneling your thoughts to occupy another space.

Sometimes, the best way to mediate an overloaded mind is to write down everything going on up there.

Although you can also express your thoughts by talking to others, writing them down offers an advantageous sensory outlet via sight.

You can’t see what you speak; you can only hear it.

Being able to see your thoughts is particularly satisfying because it offers a permanence, making them more “real” and concrete than simply vocalizing them.

On the same note, writing can create space for new thoughts to emerge as you release the worry of forgetting the “old” ones.

Writing your thoughts down means getting them out of your head and recording them for future reference. (You know, like for that book you’re going to write.)


Writing also helps to make sense of and find meaning in your thoughts.

With so much going in in your head, it can be hard to focus on one thought long enough to figure it out. But, putting it on paper can help you do just that.

Once the words are on paper, you can meditate on them, stare at them, remember them and expand on them for as long as your heart desires!

Seeing your thoughts means realizing your thoughts. The physical representation of your thoughts on paper can also help bring them to life.

Incorporating the sense of sight into processing your thoughts can galvanize them to the next step, be it action, disposal or simply reflection.

Writing is like quasi-action to make use of your brainwaves. Perhaps, you can use your writing to organize your thoughts into a plan of action for a specific goal.

You'll be able to break them down into a timeline and include all the related steps you will need to take to reach your goal.

The idea will seem less overwhelming once you chart out your journey into bite-sized actionable notes.

Realize what matters to you by detecting thought patterns in your writing.

While keeping a journal, for example, you can notice trends and focal points in your thoughts and ideas.

If you often write about a desire to become a graphic designer, you likely care a lot about it.

If you can’t stop writing about your relationship, evaluate the things you choose to focus on when you're writing about it.

It can illuminate the things in your relationship that mean the most to you.


Writing is cathartic. It gives you a second to slow down, breathe and reset.

Writing down your thoughts gives you the moment you need to be with yourself and nurture the emotions in your head, which are ultimately trying to tell you something.

Give your thoughts time and you will be freed.

Writing it out doesn’t have to make perfect sense or take a prescribed form. You can write what comes to mind off the cuff.

Doodle, scribble, sketch, list and jot.

Perhaps, start by keeping a journal and write whenever your thoughts start a symphony: in the morning, before bed, at lunch or on the metro (my favorite time to write).

Write down your thoughts and get them out of your head as a means to organize, filter, express and focus.

Writing for clarity is accessible to all. You don’t have to be “good,” “experienced” or “certified.” You just need pen, paper and your thoughts.