Want more? Subscribe to my free newsletter:

Write about what you learn. It pushes you to understand topics better.

August 12, 2023

Write about what you learn. It pushes you to understand topics better. Sometimes the gaps in our knowledge only become clear when explaining things to others.

Writing about what you learn is more than just a method of documentation; it's a powerful tool for deepening understanding and revealing the gaps in one's knowledge. This practice pushes us to explore topics more thoroughly and to articulate their thoughts in a coherent and precise manner.

Learning Through Writing

  1. Exploration: Writing about a subject can in cases require a comprehensive exploration of the topic. This often leads to uncovering new insights and connections that might not be apparent through mere reading or listening.
  2. Articulation: Putting thoughts into words forces a person to clarify their understanding. This process of articulation helps in identifying areas where the understanding might be vague or incomplete.
  3. Reflection: Writing allows for reflection on the subject matter, enabling the learner to connect new information with existing knowledge. This synthesis helps in creating a more robust and interconnected understanding of the subject.
  4. Revelation of Gaps: Sometimes, the act of writing reveals areas where the knowledge is lacking or inconsistent. Recognizing these gaps is the first step towards filling them and achieving a more complete understanding.


The Benefits

  • Enhanced Retention: Writing about what you learn helps in retaining the information for a longer time. The process of translating thoughts into words engages multiple cognitive faculties, reinforcing memory.
  • Improved Communication Skills: Regularly writing about various subjects enhances the ability to communicate complex ideas effectively. This skill is invaluable in both professional and personal life.
  • Personal Growth: The practice of writing about learning encourages a growth mindset. It fosters curiosity, critical thinking, and a willingness to engage with challenging subjects.

The Feynman Technique

The Feynman Technique is a method named after the physicist Richard Feynman, designed to help individuals learn and understand subjects deeply. It aligns well with the practice of writing about what you learn, and its principles can be summarized in the following steps:

  1. Choose a Concept: Select a concept or topic you want to understand.
  2. Teach It to a Child: Try to explain the concept as if you were teaching it to a child. Use simple language and avoid jargon.
  3. Identify Gaps and Go Back to the Source Material: If you find areas where your explanation falters, go back to the source material to fill in the gaps.
  4. Simplify and Use Analogies: Create analogies and use simple language to make the concept more relatable and easier to grasp.
  5. Review and Refine: Continuously review and refine your explanation until you can articulate the concept in the simplest terms possible.

The technique involves four steps: 1️⃣ Choose a concept or idea that you want to learn about. 2️⃣ ELI5 (Explain It To Me Like I'm 5). Pretend that you are explaining the concept to someone who knows nothing about it. Write out your explanation in simple, plain language, using examples and analogies to make it easier to understand. 3️⃣ Review your explanation and look for any gaps or unclear points. Go back to the original source material (such as a textbook or lecture notes) and fill in any gaps in your understanding. 4️⃣ Simplify your explanations. Test your understanding by trying to explain the concept to someone else, or by asking a friend or colleague to listen to your explanation and provide feedback.

The Feynman Technique emphasizes the importance of clear and simple communication, mirroring the process of writing about what you learn. Both practices encourage a deep and thorough understanding of the subject matter.

Consistency in Writing and Success

While motivation might ignite the spark of interest in writing or any other creative effort, it's consistency that truly fuels the flame of success. The act of writing regularly, regardless of inspiration, leads to growth, mastery, and achievement in the long run.

The Importance of Consistency

  1. Building Habits: Writing consistently helps in forming a habit. Habits, once established, become automatic and require less effort to maintain. This makes the process of writing more natural and enjoyable over time.
  2. Progressive Improvement: Consistent practice leads to incremental improvements. Each writing session may contribute a small enhancement in skill, but over time, these small gains accumulate into significant growth.
  3. Maintaining Momentum: Consistency helps in maintaining momentum. Regular engagement with writing keeps the ideas flowing and the creative muscles flexed, reducing the resistance to start.
  4. Achieving Long-Term Goals: Success in writing, like in many other fields, is often a result of sustained effort over time. Consistency aligns daily actions with long-term goals, creating a path to success.


The Challenges of Consistency

  • Overcoming Procrastination: Procrastination can be a significant barrier to consistency. Setting a regular schedule, creating a conducive environment, and focusing on the process rather than the outcome can help in overcoming this challenge.
  • Dealing with Burnout: Writing consistently doesn't mean writing without breaks or self-care. Balance is essential to prevent burnout. Knowing when to rest and recharge is as crucial as knowing when to push forward.
  • Managing Expectations: Not every writing session will produce a masterpiece. Embracing the imperfect and focusing on the act of writing itself, rather than the immediate results, fosters a healthier relationship with the craft.


Strategies for Maintaining Consistency

  • Set Realistic Goals: Break down long-term goals into smaller, achievable milestones. Focus on progress rather than perfection.
  • Create a Routine: Establishing a regular writing routine creates a structure that supports consistency.
  • Seek Accountability: Sharing goals with a friend or joining a writing group can provide encouragement and accountability.
  • Celebrate Progress: Acknowledging and celebrating progress, even if small, creates positive reinforcement and motivation to continue.


Writing about what you learn, employing techniques like the Feynman Technique, and maintaining consistency in practice are interconnected practices that foster deeper understanding, skill development, and long-term success.

In a landscape where information is abundant, the ability to learn deeply, articulate clearly, and persevere consistently stands out as a valuable skill set. These practices not only enhance personal and professional growth but also contribute to a lifelong journey of curiosity, exploration, and achievement.