How To Develop a Daily Writing Practice

Hi, it’s Phyllis with the next video in the series on How to Develop a Daily Writing Practice. The third in the series is 5 Priceless Benefits of Daily writing. This is aimed at my mastermind group, but if you’re not in it, enjoy!

So, a daily writing practice is pretty simple: You just have to do it everyday! The first video was about 5 Essentials for Getting Started, and this video is about how to make it a daily thing.

My big secret to success for pretty much any new habit, is to start it first thing in the morning. That way, nothing else gets in the way. What I do is, I make a big, strong cup of coffee, and I go back upstairs, to this room and I sit in this chair, and I write. I write three pages, and that’s what works for me. Sometimes I write more than three pages if I’m really on a roll when I get to the bottom of the third page, but the minimum is three pages.

When I worked full time, I trained myself to get up a half an hour early, so that I’d have time to do this, because I really wanted to incorporate this into my day. Also, starting first thing in the morning is a great of telling yourself that you’re prioritizing this time for you, prioritizing yourself, prioritizing your time with yourself that will help ground you and help ground your project idea. And I cover that in the next video, “Why to develop a daily writing practice (5 benefits to developing a daily writing practice.)

If you miss in the morning, if you just don’t have time, if you have one of those mornings, you can write after work or write at night time, or – here’s an alternative – bring a notebook and a pen with you, and find five minute chunks throughout the day. so you might be able to grab 5 minutes in the morning while you’re waiting for your coffee or your toast, but that might not be a possibility. But consider doing that instead of checking your email, if it isn’t absolutely necessary to do so. Or grab some time at lunch time: Go to your car, the rest room, a park. Find five minutes and use your phone as a timer, and sit down and write.

And then write again in the evening. You might only get 10 or 15 minutes in this way, but definitely write before you go to bed. Try to go for 15 minutes or a half an hour, whatever it is that you’re shooting for, but try to do it before bed. Here’s why: You’re going to end up downloading and dumping your whole day onto the page, and that’s great, because when you get up tomorrow morning, you’re not going to have that backlog. You will have gone through that once. It will come out again, if it’s still rolling around in your head, but at least you get a chance to start fresh in the morning.

Just keep trying to write first thing in the morning. Do as much as you can without throwing your life into turmoil, and then do a little more at another time during the day, lunchtime or before bed. Actually, this is a slightly different topic, but I have found that writing before bed is a great way to get a good night’s sleep. What I do with that is, I ask myself, “What’s likely to worry me? What’s likely to keep me up? Or what’s likely to wake me up with worry or anxiety?” and I write that down. And that’s a great way of handling overdrive mind and worrisome situations that could keep you awake.

Here are some other tips and pointers: It’s very important to not worry about what you’re writing. I wrote for years and years and years, I’m not exaggerating, decades without worrying about what I was writing. It was simply the act of taking that time for myself and dumping that stuff on the page. It was the best way that I could demonstrate my commitment to taking this time for myself and to discovering who I was. And it just so happened that who I was was a writer. But the same would be true if you were a scientist, an  illustrator, a mother, a chef, whatever you are. This is a great way to demonstrate your commitment to that, and to find out what that is. But do not worry about what you’re writing. It’s not about producing finished product.

Some common experiences to have – These are – Many things can happen, including dumping your entire cup of coffee on the floor, which happens to me periodically, and that’s because I’m sound asleep. And what I do is, I go back and make another strong cup of coffee, because I really, really love that first cup of coffee! Every one after that just doesn’t measure up, so I don’t bother with it, but that first cup – I never have gotten tired of it, so I just keep doing it.  And it’s really the same with the writing in the morning. I actually never get tired of it, it’s not a chore, it’s not something – People say, oh you’re so disciplined – I actually enjoy it. I really love doing it. At first it was really rough and ragged to get up a half hour early to allow that time, but it actually showed me that there’s lots of time outside of the work day to do what you want to do, if you prioritize it.

The trick is prioritizing it. One of things that can happen is that suddenly everything in the world becomes more interesting than writing. Suddenly it seems absolutely essential that you…fill in the blank: polish the silver, mow the lawn, get in touch with your long lost cousin who happens to be turning 60 today. There’s almost nothing like making a commitment for having everything else suddenly come crowding in. Use that as an opportunity to look at that commitment. And make the commitment.

Every commitment comes with the upside, which is the benefit of the commitment, and that’s what we talk about. The downside is what you are choosing to let go, at least for that moment. You’re actually choosing to let the email go, to not catch up on Facebook, to let the dishes sit in the sink, to call your cousin later and risk actually forgetting. You’re going to miss out on something, or you’re going to feel like you’re missing out on something, and you’re actually choosing to do this anyway.

So just be realistic that when you’re choosing something, you’re not choosing something else. And just acknowledge that, and see what that is. And I would say, if you’re really interested in making a commitment, the best way to strengthen that resolve and to strengthen your will, is to exercise it, to do it anyway. And do what you think is possible, not what you think will be impossible. So if you think five minutes will be difficult but possible, do five minutes. If you think 15 minutes is your thing, is the best you can go for, go for that. You might have to work up to it. You will have to work up to it. Just give yourself the gift to know from experience whether this is the right commitment for you to make, whether you really want this daily writing practice by doing it, rather than deciding in advance that it’s not the right thing. Because if you do that, you may decide it’s not the right thing for you, but you’ll be sure. You’ll have certainty. You won’t be wondering, am I just avoiding that? Was I just afraid of what I might find? Just face it, and do it. And then if you don’t like it, you can stop doing it.

Another likely thing to happen is that big, strong feelings will come up. And this is a lot of times why people don’t want to write. They’re afraid that big, strong feelings are going to come up, and they are. And the thing to do is to write them down, to write right through them and not let them throw you off. Yes, you can grab a tissue, but just keep crying and keep writing. You only need one hand to write with. You don’t need any hands to cry with. Just allow yourself to have your feelings and write them down honestly, and then you can look at them. And this again is what I’ll cover in the next video about why you should write regularly, but I’ll just tell you now, and I’m sure you can imagine, that when you write it down you get a chance to look at it, and it starts to change. It goes out of here and it down onto the paper, and it starts to change for you. And you have some agency over what happens with those feelings and that situation.

Don’t forget that the word emotion has the word “motion” in it. They’re meant to move, and a lot times I just write right through feelings, and then they’re gone. Then I’m free from them. And when I read it back later, I get that I was upset, but the emotion has lost its charge.

So just write anyway. There are no wrong feelings. There are no wrong words. This is about allowing yourself to be.

Another common thing to have happen is out-of-no-where brainstorms and inspirations. And the thing to do, of course, is to write them down. And what I do is, I write stuff like that down, and I underline it, and I put a little star in the margin, so I can find it later.  And then at some point during the day or the following day, I go back and I look for those stars and underlines, and I see if there’s an action that I need to take. But just write those things down. Write them all down.

Some of my blog posts come right out in my morning writing. The whole thing is right there. Ideas for the name of a book, the idea for a project, the idea for this mastermind group, it all came through my writing. This is my avenue. I’ve created a field, an energetic field. By sitting down every day and doing it, I’ve created a pathway. I’ve created a pathway for communicating with my self, with my higher power, with whatever it is that’s directing all of this, and so: Write it down. It’s a gift.

Another likely thing to happen is big, dry, empty, silent spaces where it seems like you have nothing to say. And the thing to do there is to write that down, and describe what it feels like to be in that place: “It feels like I have nothing to say.” And how does it feel to feel that way? How does it feel to have nothing to say? “It reminds me of the time I….” “I wish I felt….” Just keep writing. Write through that experience. Repeat: “I have nothing to say. I’m empty. I’m tired. I’m blank, I’m blank, I just want to go back to sleep.” Just let yourself keep expressing from that place, wherever you are.

It’s very important – and this is another pointer for succeeding at this – It’s very important to be a safe person to write for. It’s inevitable that your judging mind is going to come in and say, “Whoa, girl, that’s off limits!’ Or, “You sure you want to write that down?” Or, “Whoa, you really feel that way? That’s kind of – something – isn’t it?” Some judgment about it. Guilt. I really shouldn’t feel that way. Well, guess what. Write that down. Write it down: “I’m a jerk for feeling this way.” “Part of me feels like I should just give up.” “Part of me feels like the biggest imposter on Earth.” “I am such an asshole.” Just write it down. Write it down and write right through it. Don’t let it throw you off. It’s just thoughts. It’s not the truth. There’s many truths. It’s not the only truth. Just write it down.

Something else about strong feelings: Here’s a link to a prior blog post I did on this subject. I’d like to read something from that post here:

“When I started free writing, I thought I would never come to the end of self deprecation.” (That is true. I went on and on and on with self deprecation.) “I had tapped a lifetime of pent up feelings that had never been acknowledged or named. I had never had the means to know them. I had to allow them to come out. It was like pulling a shard of glass out of my finger. And then, it was over. I was conversational with myself. I started to discover a voice in there, a sensibility, preferences, a world view, a particular and unique person, neither perfect now defective, but human. I discovered my humanity by writing down everything that was inside me. Those reams of negativity, while I wouldn’t go back and read them today, are precious to me. They represent the painful birthing of a person. They record the process of becoming real to myself.”

Another common thing to happen is, expect your life to change. In the process of becoming real to yourself, of listening to yourself, of expressing yourself, you will realize that you need to do some things. You may need to change some things. You may simple carry yourself differently. You may respond to situations differently out of this newfound connection with the real you. So, you don’t have to tell other people that you can’t stand X, Y and Z, but now you know it, and it’s not a secret from you anymore, so the next time X, Y and Z comes up, you know what to do. You know how to distance yourself, you know that it’s not good for you, and you steer clear.

If you feel you’re in a rut, and this can happen after years or weeks or months or whatever it is for you, of writing, give yourself a new challenge. Learn how to write poetry. Explore a particular topic that is a little bit edgy for you, like addiction or sexuality, or death, or relationships, love, intimacy, something that’s a little bit harder to deal with. Give yourself a writing challenge. Write autobiographically, make up characters, write fiction. Read more widely and imitate what you’re reading.  Put yourself in an uncomfortable place with your writing, now that you have navigated that first uncomfortable hurdle of developing a daily writing practice, of sitting down and facing yourself every day and facing your life and facing your reality every day, you might be more comfortable with that process. So now you can put yourself in a little bit more uncomfortable place with your writing.

Right now I’m taking a writing class for the first time since college. I don’t like it at all. Honestly, I don’t like being a class, I don’t like having assignments. And it’s putting me face to face with some insecurities that it’s high time I dealt with. And I’m challenging myself to write fiction as part of my daily routine, which is really uncomfortable. And it puts me right back in that beginner place, which is uncomfortable. It’s uncomfortable to be a beginner. It really is, so start by acknowledging that. And happy discovering to you!

I hope this helps. And I hope that if you have any questions, maybe you’ve tried daily writing before and it hasn’t worked out for you. I hope that you’ll put that in the comments. Ask your questions in the comments. Answer me this: What would it take for you to be twice as satisfied as you are right now with your writing? What would it take? What have you encountered? What are your obstacles? We can have an ongoing discussion about this. I’d love to know what’s on your mind about this, and if you decide to do a daily writing practice, let me know how it’s going. What are you hoping for, what are you getting out of it?

Okay, that’s this video. Stayed tuned for the next one, 5 Priceless Benefits of a Daily Writing Practice. Okay, get writing : Get your fast pen, your notebook, get your timer, find your place, make your commitment and start today!

Creativity Divinely Directed

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