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Calvin, citing Augustine: “I count myself one of the number of those who write as they learn and learn as they write.”

Ed Welch: “I find that there are three levels of clarity. When I only think about something, my thoughts are embryonic and muddled. When I speak about it, my thoughts become clearer, though not always. When I write about it, I jump to a new level of clarity.”

John Piper: “Writing became the lever of my thinking and the outlet of my feelings. If I didn’t pull the lever, the wheel of thinking did not turn. It jerked and squeaked and halted. But once a pen was in hand, or a keyboard, the fog began to clear and the wheel of thought began to spin with clarity and insight.”

Arthur Krystal: “Like most writers, I seem to be smarter in print than in person. In fact, I am smarter when I’m writing. I don’t claim this merely because there is usually no one around to observe the false starts and groan-inducing sentences that make a mockery of my presumed intelligence, but because when the work is going well, I’m expressing opinions that I’ve never uttered in conversation and that otherwise might never occur to me. Nor am I the first to have this thought, which, naturally, occurred to me while composing. According to Edgar Allan Poe, writing in Graham’s Magazine, ‘Some Frenchman—possibly Montaigne—says: ‘People talk about thinking, but for my part I never think except when I sit down to write.’ I can’t find these words in my copy of Montaigne, but I agree with the thought, whoever might have formed it. And it’s not because writing helps me to organize my ideas or reveals how I feel about something, but because it actually creates thought or, at least supplies a Petri dish for its genesis.”

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9 thoughts on “Write to Understand”

  1. This is how I write sermons: to convince myself of the truth and wonder of the passage in question.

  2. Andrew says:

    Great quotes. Here is another.

    “Writing is thinking. To write well is to think clearly. That’s why it’s so hard. We all know the old expression, ‘I’ll work my thoughts out on paper.’ There’s something about the pen that focuses the brain in a way that nothing else does.” – David McCullough


  3. Adam Ford says:

    Oddly enough, reading these quotes solidified thoughts I’ve had about writing that I couldn’t seem to materialize. Perhaps I should have written about writing…

  4. Dave Moore says:

    “Writing is a raid on the inarticulate.” (T.S. Eliot)

  5. Aimee Byrd says:

    I love this post. But which came first, the thinker or the writer? Seriously though, I just began seriously writing about 3 or four years ago, and blogging for a mere 7 months, but I am so compelled that I feel like I cannot not write.

  6. Joey says:

    I didn’t really want to start my first blog almost 4 years ago, but on my 3rd now ( It has been a great outlet for me.

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Justin Taylor, PhD

Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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