Writing is thinking
Some of my best ideas, most condensed thoughts, and results I'm most proud have come out of the practise of habitual writing. I don't think the value of writing is in the product from the writing. Writing teaches you to think. Writing is thinking.
It's stunningly rare that people just sit down and think about something. There are many ways to think. You can arm yourself with a topic, and go on a walk. You can write a word on a piece of paper, and start drawing, thinking, scribbling. You can sit in a car, look out the window, and think deeply about something. We're extremely hesitant to activate our slow brain—a forcing function can be valuable here. Writing is one.
I attribute a lot of my accomplishments from having spent significant time sitting down to think deeply about a problem. Often, you don't find the answer, but you continuously hone your questions. Perhaps you get stuck, and you start drawing. You call your friend.
I think people spend too much time focusing on the things that are urgent, instead of the things that are important. While important and urgent tasks needs to be dealt with first, don't ignore the leverage you leave on the table because you now have to get it done as soon as possible. I experiment with the idea of thinking in terms of time, instead of in terms of tasks. This forces you to spend time thinking about the important things that are not urgent yet so you can harvest maximum value from these tasks once they have to be completed.
Because most people just don't do this, you will seem like a superhuman. In the lingo of the Pareto principle, thinking about important things can definitely be part of the 20% of activity that causes 80% of your output. I never go into meetings I have set up without a solid amount of preparation. I never go into one on ones without having spent at least 15 minutes thinking and writing.
In "Between the World and Me" the author tells the story of how his grandma forced him to write every time he'd done something bad. Not to school him, but simply to get him to think about it. Writing is thinking, and this thinking about these events, helps build self-awareness. That self-awareness is the reason why Coates is a successful author.
What separates an author from you and me? Is it their writing skills? Often it's not. Many successful writers never had any formal training. They just wrote a lot. More importantly, they lived interesting lives. Successful writers live interesting lives that they put into words. They do this for their own benefit, and to share their lessons with other people. Great writers live interesting lives, write a lot, and are passionate teachers.
There are many ways to think. Writing is one way. Writing is thinking.