The art of sharing our stories has always been known to help sooth the soul, both of the listeners and the storytellers. Writing brings communities together but first and foremost it acts as therapy to the writer. Studies have shown the positive benefits of writing ranging from increased overall sense of wellbeing to greater creativity and discipline on the job, at home, and in relationships.
Do you have ideas that you long to get out of your head and down onto paper? Have you ever wondered how writing could benefit you?
Here are four tips to help you explore and commit to a daily writing practice:
- This first tip is classic. You will hear it from all sorts of people because, even though this process is not easy, it really works! Pick up a copy of Julia Cameron’s international bestseller The Artist’s Way. This workbook for emerging creatives is chock-full of incredible advice for anyone trying to build a creative habit, but the one I want you to focus on is the Morning Pages.
Every day as soon as you wake up, you grab a pen and a journal and hand write (no computers for this!) non-stop, pen-to-paper, for three full pages. Think of this as releasing all the junk from your brain—get it down on paper so you never have to think about it again. This is likely to be a little uncomfortable at first but if you stick with it you’ll start to feel a release of negative energy. In turn, you’ll open up space that will allow your heart and gratitude to blossom.
- Start keeping a dream journal. Our brains go to some wild and wonderful places while we sleep. The practice of writing dream descriptions can build confidence in the creative capacity of your own brain. Wow, did I really come up with that?! A really important part of discipline is confidence. In fact they work in tandem. Confidence builds discipline then discipline spins around to build more confidence.
For this to really work, it’s imperative that you keep a journal, a pen and a nightlight right by your bedside. You can’t wake up and think, “Oh that was cool! I’ll write it down later.” You have to write your dreams down immediately upon opening your eyes. Trust me on this; you will not remember the juiciest details later.
Over time you may see emotional or mental patterns emerge that you weren’t previously aware of. But even if everything stays vague and bizarre, you’ll have some fantastic entries to look back on at the end of a year!
- Tip number three builds on number two: Start taking notes all the time. Every time you see something or hear something you find interesting, get a few details down. This could mean carrying a journal and a pen on you at all times, or it could be as simple as using the functions on your phone. Did the smell of popcorn bring you back to a fond childhood memory at the movies? Text it to yourself. Did watching that cyclist cross Main Street in fluorescent Spandex spark an idea for an incredible active vacation? Use the Voice Memo function to record yourself speaking it out loud. By the end of the week you’ll have a ton of interesting topics to reflect on and flesh out.
- And finally, tip number four is to set up a sacred writing space. Maybe the Internet or distractions in the kitchen keep you from finishing your Morning Pages. That’s OK. Really, who doesn’t struggle with these things? Setting up a distraction-free zone will not only help you cement your practice. It can also make a hugely positive impact on how you feel while you write. Can you convert an unused closet into a hideaway desk? Or do you just light candles and make tea as a small act of ceremony?
The intention behind writing is to engage your creativity and grow your peace of mind. So whatever you can do to make it happen, give yourself the gift of a comfortable environment that you’ll want to spend time in.
I hope these tips serve you and move you closer to a life full of peace and creativity. Don’t forget the simplest (and most important) advice you’ll ever get: Writers need to write. This won’t work unless you show up to the page and do it.
Now get to it! Have fun!