Writing isn’t just for writers

Crochet and tea

Crochet and tea – also good to de-stress with!

We’ve heard over and over again that successful people, happy people, entrepreneurs and creatives write every day.

Daily writing:

You could build a morning habit to clear worries from your mind, write creative lists and plans throughout the day, journal about your day or write about the things you are grateful for in the evening.

Morning Pages

Daily stream-of-consciousness journalling is a great way to unlock ideas, set aside or work through stress and worries, and plan or focus on what you want to achieve in the day.

Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, recommends that you write by hand, but I find it is as good to type or dictate my 750 words (about three pages handwritten).

You don’t have to worry about spelling, correct grammar, or sentence structures.

You just write. No editing is allowed.

Although silencing your inner critic may be a struggle to begin with, stick with it. An uncensored brain dump is a freeing start to the day.

Don’t write to please your future self – it’s not like a diary, where entries are often revisited.

Morning Pages is a mind declutterer, you don’t re-read it.

You can write about all sorts of things that will set you up for a good and productive day, if you are not yet comfortable with an unguided brain dump.

  • Are you stressed or worried? Write advice to yourself about a problem or worry, as if you were an older version of yourself who wanted to help.
  • Overwhelmed? Plan out your day, and include positive feelings for the tasks you intend to complete.
  • Are your thoughts stuck in the past or future? Write a detailed description of your surroundings. You could go to a park or cafe for this. Bring this mindful awareness of your surroundings with you as you go about your day.
  • Are you angry? Take it all out on the paper, no editing or holding anything back.
  • Feeling unwell? Write how you will take care of yourself during the day, or a list of 50 things that would make you smile and relax a little.
  • Are you scared about an upcoming event or meeting? Write about the best and worst outcomes, and how you would deal with each.
  • Feeling unmotivated or in a creative slump? Write a list of 50 creative activities or projects you could do (business and/or pleasure).

If you find 750 words too much, start with 250 each day, about one handwritten page. Or even half a page. Increase your word or page count each week to build the writing habit.

Tim Ferris and Maneesh Sethi swear by this morning writing ritual.

Idea Machine

This is a great tool for creatives – writings, artists, teachers, coaches, entrepreneurs, programmers, etc. – who regularly get ‘blocked’ for ideas or everyone who gets stuck on problems.

Every day write a list of 10 ideas for products, classes, activities, services, artistic works, characters, solutions to problems, apps, people to email, books to read, etc.

It may be hard to begin with, but James Altucher promises that exercising your idea muscle will get you out of any slump!

Richard Branson also writes these lists in notebooks he always carried with him.

A gratitude journal

There are a number of studies showing that writing down things you are grateful for can help depression, reduce pain and make you feel happier.

Noting things you are grateful for is typically best done towards the end of the day.

Although, if you are feeling down when you wake up, this is a good exercise to improve the start of your day.

Start small – note a few things you were grateful for throughout the day. Sunny weather, a good cup of coffee, a cat purring, a task completed, someone who smiled at you, good music, … the possibilities are endless.

Tip: Write these in a diary/calendar so you can look back on your lists when you need a pick-me-up.

Probably the most famous person who wrote a gratitude journal is Oprah. Arianna Huffington also wrote extensively about the benefits of gratitude in her book Thrive.

Bonus points for language learners if you write lists and gratitude notes in your target language!

Why do you write?

I primarily use daily writing to manage and track chronic illnesses, reduce depression and manage PTSD, and find things to be happy about every day. I try to write a sentence a day (or more) in German.

However, I enjoy writing more when I use it as a creative outlet. And I love lists, especially lists of ideas!

Why do you regularly write?

Let me know in the comments below!

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