If there is one good habit that am proud of myself, that’s reading books. I have been reading books for quite some time. After finishing a book, I always felt a sense of accomplishment and I take pride in myself for this one good habit.
Until one day, my wife asked me by picking up a book, “Can you describe me what this book is about in 5 sentences?”
I tried recollecting the main insights from the book but got stumbled after 2-3 sentences. I didn’t say anything more as I got blushed and left from there. Suddenly, my pride in self got converted to self-humiliation and I started worrying that I might be suffering from Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. While neuroscientists are still trying to uncover the reasons that lead to these diseases, I have realized that all these years I was reading passively and missing the deeper understanding of the book.
After reading few articles, I concluded that the best way to retain anything from a book is to write something about it. Here are the 5 main benefits of writing that I have curated:
1. Writing is a terrible tool to retain what you have read.
As soon as you complete a book, start writing down those main ideas or insights in a note book or a notepad and then do a spaced repetition. With this, the insights that you have learnt from the book will be moved from your short-term memory to long-term memory. This helps you in retaining what you have read.
2. Writing a summary helps you form a deeper understanding of the book.
Writing a summary and rereading it after a while can also add fresh perspectives from the book. This will give you a deeper understanding of the ideas mentioned in the book.
3. Writing a summary helps you connect ideas with other books/sources.
If you have a habit of reading books, you may recollect any similar ideas from other books that you read. If you are interested in the productivity category and you read a lot of books on the same subject, writing the summary can help you in connecting the ideas from one book with other books on the same subject. For instance, while I was reading James Clears ‘Atomic Habits’ on why small habits make a big difference, I got connected to the previous idea from the book “The Kaizen Way” by Robert Maurer on how small actions allow the brain to build up new, permanent habits. This is how your knowledge gets consolidated.
4. Writing leads to better learning.
Writing is a great mental exercise. A lot of studies have found that writing will boost your learning in reconstructing your thoughts. The more you write, the more you learn.
5. Writing a summary helps in improving your writing.
To become a great writer, you need to become one consistent writer. The bestselling author James Clear says, “Every time you write a page, you are a writer.” You don’t need to worry about how your first article will look like. Your first article sucks (like this :)) but your tenth article will look good and twentieth even better. Compounding applies to every part of your learnings. Writing is no exception.
You can benefit from writing on a regular basis even if you never jotted down something on paper. Write down regularly (even if you think it’s a shit). Remember, writing regularly may not make you a professional writer but it will certainly make you a person with more clarity and more productive.
“You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.” ― Octavia E. Butler
Finally, I regained my sense of accomplishment and this time in writing this stuff. At last, I started writing something.