Where to start? Where to start?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. There’s nothing less inspiring than a blank computer screen.
I’m inclined to believe that an irregular writing practice is at the bottom of the problem around being stuck getting started. Like anything, writing becomes increasingly easy with small repeated habits. Daily ones, in an ideal world.
Over time, a regular writing practice will help you to stop procrastinating when it comes to sitting down to write in the first place. It will encourage ideas to float to the surface, rather than stagnating and settling at the bottom of a muddy mind.
The more I write, the more I write
When I write every day without fail, I feel more inclined to put my thoughts on paper, create, and turn them into something.
When I write sporadically, in spurts, or leave it a week or two, I feel like I’m reaching and reaching, but what I want to say, those terrific, articulate, exciting, intelligent ideas are just beyond my fingertips and out of grasp. And anything I manage to collate is expressed, well, kinda averagely.
But patience, patience. It has taken a while to get into a daily writing habit. I’m not going to say it was an overnight achievement or that I do it ‘perfectly’ even now. Yet, it’s certainly heading in the right direction.
I often say that I write thousands of words for other people every day but, when I sit down to write for myself, nothing comes. Writing to brief on client projects hasn’t made the daily practice thing happen. You’d think it would, but it isn’t the same.
The kind of writing you do for other people doesn’t use the same bit of your brain, evoke the same emotions, or stir creative juices. Writing to spec is more logical. There’s process involved.
Writing for yourself, be it journaling, blogging, creative writing or something else, is a great deal more free-flowing and comes from the heart, not the head.
What does it take, though, to develop a daily practice? Dedication, yes. Ideas, yes. Routine even. Here, I share my own daily writing practice in all its imperfect glory.
The moment I wake up
I’ve tried and tried to do morning pages, but it just doesn’t feel good to me. The first time my pen hits paper of a morning, it’s to write some affirmations, beautiful phrases of encouragement that I want to take into the day. I might meditate on a morning mantra. Or… I might not.
Before starting work
The practice of rewriting my goals has been life-changing for me. I write them on each page of my weekly calendar, which is open on my desk every day. I rewrite my goals once more, then look at my day. I select my top three tasks to get done and write those.
Underneath, I’ll write my somewhat more flexible to do list. As long as I knock off those most important three, I’m satisfied. Any more of my to-do list and you have one heck of a cheery lady right there.
Middle of the day
I like to make sure I connect with someone special every day. In the middle of the day, I’ll email someone in my family or a friend back home and say hey.
Another idea is to use your words to make someone’s day. Send a thank you card, compliment, or letter of praise for good customer service. Comment supportively on a little-known blog or your favourite networking forum. If I’m going to journal, it’ll more than likely be this sort of time too. A fantastic afternoon pick-me-up!
After finishing work
I like to get ideas out of my brain and onto a piece of paper so I don’t take all the crazy goings on of work into my evening. My creative mind kicks in better in the afternoon, so I brainstorm any projects I’ve got going on, list things out to get organised, or write down must-do tasks for the following day.
I’ll occasionally (and not as much as I wish) manage one more writing moment in my day and that’s my gratitude list. Sometimes I’m quite general, listing things I’m grateful for in my life. Other times, I’m more specific.
What am I grateful for that I created? What happened today that deserves gratitude? What can I be grateful about a situation that’s not my ideal?
It’s a serious mood-enhancer, more powerful than any pill or potion I have come across before. If you try any of these ideas, I recommend this one most highly!
Introducing more writing moments into your life
If you’re trying to introduce more writing into your life, these are a great place to start. They’re the ones that fit my life and schedule. Others, I’ve given a go and just don’t suit me. No biggie. If journaling isn’t your thing, don’t force it. The idea is to make writing enjoyable, not put you off.
And whatever you do, do something.
You’ll see many sites on writing recommending that you put aside such-and-such amount of time every day, or making sure you find some peace and quiet in your day. Realistically though…!
The best way to becoming a regular writer is simply to enjoy and appreciate every moment you have a pen in your hand.
What are your favourite writing practices? Share them with me in the comments.
Tara - Such Different Skies says
Gorgeous article Kris. I always love having a sneak peek into the routines of others x
Nothing like a healthy dose of vicariousness! Your crystal and card rituals have given me a heap more confidence to try stuff at home. So great to share these things so we feel less self-conscious exploring new ways of understanding ourselves.
Cheryl Bigus says
Nice tips here, Gorgeous! Morning pages works great for me because I’m a morning person and its even better if there aren’t any distractions like other people in my house. Normally my morning pages routine happens after I’ve taken everyone to school. 🙂
I thought of you and your morning pages when I was writing this!
If anyone is interested in exploring morning pages, check out Cheryl’s article here. It could be the thing for you. http://euphoricroots.com/morning-rituals-morning-pages/
Cheryl Bigus says
You are so nice.
Wow, this is nice, Kris. My daily writing habit when I was younger was to write in my diary. Back then it was a diary. These days, it’s a journal, which actually sounds better. Haha. But, yes, it totally helped me when I would have to write something in school. As a writer, I shouldn’t lose that well of ideas and I believe I would always have a well of ideas.
When I have the time, I will keep writing, just like what I’ve always planned – to write a novel or a book or something. How I went through with my colourful life. Haha.
Thank you for great ideas, always. 🙂
I’m doing a huge writing audit at the moment, uncovering all the places I have written stuff hiding. I’ll write a post on that sometime too. Lots of it is going into my next book!
Finding hidden written stuff! Great idea.
There are numerous notebooks, partially filled, about the house… to say nothing of the snippets typed into notepad or Word and then saved with vaguely-relevant filenames.
This half term, I undertake to undertake “a huge writing audit” and share the results with you.
Are you blogging at the moment? Get back on it! You must have a tonne of stuff already.
When was half term, Mark? Did you find loads of gems in those notebooks? Pleeeease share some of your writing. You’re such a talent. x
sally brown says
I love this article and this is one topic I’ve been working on for some time now. I always make a list of goals each year, and I think tif I can get this one organized, I’ll be happy.
I’m a huge procrastinator and am always fighting this. This article has given me more motivation to really find my best time and place to write. I normally write in living room (TV doesn’t bother me). However, my laptop has failed. So now I have to sit in one room to write and this goes against everything I like. It’s not a friendly place. It is next to my bedroom which is okay, but the window where my computer is, looks out on a deserted house that is really run down. This is a real de-motivator. I think I need to redo that room. Any other suggestions are always appreciated.
Great article! Sally
Kris Emery says
Hey Sally, I recently wrote an ebook about creating a beautiful space to write. It’s coming out this month. It’s so important to feel good in the space where you’re writing. I like to take a pen and notebook and get outside or go to a cafe to write. For some reason, I feel far more inspired to write in a cosy, warm environment.
Emily Cal says
Just started writing today. I was able to finish like two-and-a-half articles in one night. They’re basically things that I know well enough to share with others. Here’s one I hope people can learn from. I know there have already been articles written about it but I’m sure it will be a different perspective and different writing style.
You can check it out there. That’s a blog that’s a bit more formal than my other blog in blogger.com. I shall be buying my own domain name one of these days to make things more formal, like yours.
I guess my writing is inspired by your site. 🙂 Thank you.
Amazing, Emily! You just decided to do it today and went for it? That’s phenomenal action-taking. I love! Will check out your article.
Alison Green says
Thanks for sharing your routine. Love the idea of 3 jobs per day – I remembered that from when we spoke.
I’m up against the brick wall these past few days, now that I’ve put ‘start blogging’ at the top of my to do list.
I’m doing every known preparatory activity with the utmost dedication: revisit BSchool video, comments and Fun Sheets; brainstorm topics; browse other blogs … so it must be getting close to the time when I actually s t a r t w r i t i n g.
Just remembered I have to move the guinea pigs to a fresh patch of grass… and so on.
Thinking about being a pro a la Steven Pressfield.
And a la Kris Emery by the looks!
I’ll get there, I will. It supposed to feel hard, I know that. Watch this space ….! I can see myself on the other side of this resistance.
Hey Alison, looks like you’ve been busy! One technique I’ve used this last year that has really helped, especially when I’ve been using ‘busy’ as an excuse not to tackle that super-sizeable topic that stays on my to-do list forever, is break down my goals into smaller things. So instead of “start blogging”, which involves a whole heap of things and seems “too big” to tackle, what feels manageable? It’s usually a brainstorm that gets things going for me, because I’ll think of something while I’m brainstorming that’s too exciting to leave alone, and then I’ll want to get onto writing it right away.
The other thing you could do is a writing audit. Go back to things you already have. See what you’ve written in emails, or journals, or even BSchool notes, and then edit it. (Your forte, right?)
Good luck. And please come back and share when you get started. I’d love to see your perspective since we do similar things!