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.