Have you ever heard the premise that talking to yourself means that you’re crazy? Well, it just goes to show that popular assumptions are often wrong. Talking to yourself, also called “private speech,” is not only sane, but it helps us learn. As young children, we use private speech to help us think through concepts. As we grow older, we internalize our “thinking out loud” into thoughts. However, anytime that we have a new or complicated concept to learn, we revert to private speech for help processing thoughts.
One advantage of talking to yourself is that you know at least somebody’s listening. ~ Franklin P. Jones
In a study by the American Psychological Association (APA) of private speech in adults, more than 80 percent of study participants spoke to themselves during all six tasks and 100 percent of participants used private speech during at least one of the tasks. A second study showed that teenagers who used private speech for self-guidance during an exam got the highest test scores.
Therefore, thinking out loud is actually a sign of learning, intelligence, and growth, instead of insanity. I use self talk to assist in working though creative projects. My family tells me that, not only do I talk to myself, I talk to myself loudly. However, I just shrug it off, because I find that, when I talk through a project out loud, the ideas become cemented in my mind.
Even though I am a writer, I have a background as an artist. Due to this background and inclination, I think though most concepts visually. If I close my eyes, I can see my ideas as pictures in my head. I am not alone. Many people process ideas and thoughts visually. According to Princeton University, visual thinking or spatial learning is the process of thinking via visual processing by using the creative and emotional part of the brain to organize information in an intuitive way.
“Our job in this life is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it.” ~ Steven Pressfield, The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles
The creative process that a writer uses is not that different from that of an artist. Creative writers use words to “paint a picture” for the reader. We take ideas and put them through our personal filters in order to present them to a reader in a manner that they can understand. As a painter, I start a painting with general outlines of my subject and fill in the details as I complete the piece. As a writer, I start with a general concept for an article or post and then break it down into smaller pieces to flesh out the details. The only real difference is the medium that I am using to present my ideas.
Therefore, if you find yourself using private speech to work through a difficult project, you can count yourself as one of an elite group of creative thinkers.
Paula A can usually be found in her favorite chair with her feet propped up on an ottoman quietly typing on her laptop and sipping iced coffee while chaos reigns around her.