Why You Need to Write Down Your Problems to Solve Them
6 min read

Why You Need to Write Down Your Problems to Solve Them

Why You Need to Write Down Your Problems to Solve Them

To understand your problems, you need to write them down.

If you don't, they only live in your head and that's a problem.

If your problems only live in your head, they won't be clearly defined. This makes it easy for them to avoid a solution. When you try to solve them, they'll simply hide behind other problems. Then, you won't be able to differentiate one from the other and solve them separately.

Your problems will use your lack of clarity about them to avoid your solutions. Instead of solving your problems, you'll waste time and effort solving their symptoms.

This will frustrate you and give your problems time to grow stronger and more severe by the day. If you allow them to grow big, you'll become afraid of them. Then you'll avoid solving them, understanding them, or even thinking about them. Then they have all the time in the world to grow so big that they can fundamentally threaten your life. That's how they become persistent parts of your life that constantly undermine your efforts and sabotage your work.

Writing your problems down is one of the best ways for how you can prevent this.

When you write down your problems you separate them from everything else. You gain unprecedented clarity about them and cut them down to size. You make them approachable and prevent them from bouncing around in your head. And, finally, you create a clear target on their backs to make your solutions more effective.

Let's look at these benefits in more detail:

Writing Clarifies A Problem

Problems like to huddle together in a group.

They like this, because it makes any one problem very hard to identify correctly.

Is your health problem caused by your recent weight gain, your lack of movement, or your recent increase in stress?

If you haven't thought this question through in writing, you'll have no idea.

But, if you take the problem and write about it in detail, you'll separate it from all your other problems.

Maybe your recent weight gain isn't the problem. Maybe it's just a symptom of your lack of movement. Maybe your lack of movement isn't the problem either. Maybe it's that you don't understand how important movement is to your health. Maybe you could solve your health problem if you deeply understood the important movement. Then you'd move more as a result and fix your health problems.

Maybe there's a different reason behind your health problem altogether?

How do you know?

You can't.

Especially not if you try to think about all of these problems, their relevance to one another, and their contributing factors in your head.

Your chance to correctly identify the problem and come up with the best solution just by thinking about both is zero.

So, write about the problem.

Explore it in detail.

You can start with these questions:

  • Why does the problem exist?
  • When did it appear for the first time?
  • What happened around that time?
  • What have you tried to solve it?
  • Why did nothing work?
  • What could you try next?

When you answer even one of these questions, you'll learn a lot about your problems. Because you now have written answers you can build upon them in future writing sessions. This way you can understand your problems far deeper than by thinking about them.

Over time, you'll understand your problems deeply and can solve them much more easily.

Writing Clarifies Your Thinking About the Problem

Another reason to write down your problems is that writing clarifies your thinking.

The more you write about a problem, the more concrete it will become in your mind.

The more concretely your problem exists in your mind, the better you can think about it. Instead of confusing it with everything else that's in your head, you can separate it. You can take single aspects of it and think deeply about them. And you can take a potential solution and better judge if it might solve the problem. If you think it won't you can skip the trial and error and keep looking for a better one.

That's why you need to write down your problems:

The more you write your problems down, the sharper your thinking about them will become. The sharper your thinking becomes, the more likely you'll solve your problems.

Writing Cuts the Problem Down to Size

When one of your problems lives only inside your head for long enough it becomes a monster.

It grows 5 heads, 10 legs, and 15 arms.

It grows larger and larger until you won't dare to approach it and avoid it instead.

When you've avoided it for a long time, you might not even dare to speak or even think about it.

That's when your problem has won.

You have avoided it for so long that it has grown so big that you won't even think about it. Then there's no way that you can solve it because solving it requires you at least to think about it. If you don't dare to do that, you're lost.

Thankfully, the moment you start writing about the problem you cut it down to size.

Suddenly, it's not a scary monster anymore, but a much more reasonable one or two pages in your journal.

That makes it much easier to think about it, evaluate potential solutions, and experiment with them until solve it.

It's like magic.

You start writing and as you write the problem shrinks.

Once you're done writing the monstrous problem that you were afraid of becomes a much more manageable problem you could solve.

That's why you need to write your problems down.

It robs them of their power and cuts them to size.

Writing Marks Your Problem for Solution

Once you've written down a problem, you inevitably mark it for a potential solution.

When your problem is foggy, unclear, and low-resolution it's very difficult to come up with a good solution.

Sure, you might get lucky now and then and randomly solve it for a while.

But, like clockwork, it always pops up in your life again in the future. That's because your lucky strike was a temporary fix, instead of a lasting solution.
Writing down your problem doesn't guarantee that this won't happen again.
But, it's your best bet.

The moment you've written down your problem, you have created a clear target.
You know what the problem looks like, you know what it's related to, and you know what it likes and dislikes.

This makes it much easier to evaluate solutions, research new ones, and experiment with the ones you have until you solve your problem.

That's why you need to write your problem down.

Writing Creates Peace of Mind

When you don't write down your problems they bounce around in your head.

You remember them when you don't want to. You get distracted by them when you try to focus and get frustrated when they prevent you from doing important work.
In short, they constantly disrupt your peace of mind and serenity.

Writing your problems down is one of the best ways to create peace of mind.

When they are written down you don't have to remember them. Your paper does. As a result, they don't bounce around in your head without your permission.

Instead, you are in control.

If you want to pay attention to them you can. You just pull out your paper, read about them, and intentionally think about them. If you don't want to pay attention to them, you put the paper away and go on with your day.


Writing down your problems has many advantages:

It separates one problem from all your other problems which makes it easier to solve it.

It clarifies your thinking, so you can come up with solutions a lot easier.

It robs your problem of its power by cutting it down to size.

It paints a clear target on the back of your problem so that your solutions easily find their mark.

It increases your peace of mind so that you can bring more focus to your most important tasks.

Can writing down your problems be this effective? Absolutely.

It's one of the most simple, easiest, and most efficient ways to understand and solve them.

While it is helpful to just write down your problems many different formats, methods, and techniques make this process more or less efficient.

Depending on your personality, strengths, and weaknesses some work better than others.

In the next letter, we'll explore my personal favorite formats and techniques along with some tips on how to use them best.

See you then,

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