I found myself profoundly moved by Van Gogh’s story while visiting the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

In his isolation, Van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo. From the few letters I saw at the museum, the act of writing was clearly very cathartic for Van Gogh, as well as clarifying and self-reflective.


Lesson 3 of 3: Write to think.

The discipline of writing – a journal, blog posts, letters to a brother – is a powerful way to structure and process our thoughts. It is one of the proven techniques widely used in psychotherapy and crisis support.

One of the main reasons I write on this blog is to practise structuring my thoughts. Having an initial idea is all well and good. But thinking it through to a greater degree of “completion”, fleshing out the details, requires more discipline and effort. With the payoff being greater clarity and sometimes the experience of flow.

Knowing that someone will read what I write is a useful driver. I suspect that is also the case for Van Gogh – knowing that Theo will read his letters would have subtly shifted and reframed his thoughts, for the better.

This has renewed by commitment to writing. I have had a blog now since 2005. As Peter Bogaards of http://www.informationdesign.org/ said to me recently, having a blog is like committing to a puppy. You can’t really just stop.

Do you write a journal or a blog? Do you have people you enjoy writing to?