With rare exception, the first thing I do each morning is wake up and write. A daily writing habit has been an opportunity for reflection and a path to meaning. It enabled me to become the author of my life story. Even if you don’t want to be a blogger, a writer, or an author, the benefits of a daily writing habit can be invaluable to your life.
We design and shape our lives in the space between stimulus and response. But in a world that is always on, we’re constantly fighting distractions, attention merchants, and social networks. That space is being sold to the highest bidders. There’s less and less of it for us to pause and reflect.
Writing gives us the opportunity to disconnect from the world around us and reconnect with the world within us. We’re able to find the true motivation behind our actions, goals, and desires. We get to know ourselves, increase our capacity for resilience, and discover opportunities to turn adversity into advantage.
Solitude is rare, necessary, and underrated. Writers often talk about finding their voice. But it’s hard to find your voice when you can’t even hear it. In solitude, we’re able to turn down the volume of the world around us and turn up the volume of the voice within us. Solitude can open doors we can’t access any other way.
Great art is often born out of great pain. As I wrote in Unmistakable: Why Only is Better Than Best, some of the most powerful chapters of your work will come from the most painful chapters of your life.
According to James Pennebaker, when participants in a study wrote about a traumatic experience, they recovered from it more quickly.
In the midst of grief, thoughts swirl around in our heads like a snow globe that has just been shaken. When we put our thoughts down on paper, they lose their power over us. Anxiety evolves into awareness.
Through a daily writing habit, we can find meaning in madness and purpose in pain.
Why bother? What’s next? These are questions we ask ourselves in periods of change, loss, or transition. By writing down our thoughts, we can find clarity. In the words of Amber Rae, we need to accumulate pages, not judgments.
Whatever comes to your mind, don’t resist. Sometimes you have to shovel a mountain of shit to find an ounce of gold. By avoiding judgment of our thoughts, our emotions don’t get in the way of our ability to find clarity.
When I started my daily writing habit 10 years ago, I had no idea where it would lead. What started out as a way to pass the time when I didn’t have a job has become a keystone habit, one that altered the trajectory of my life. I never knew a pen would point me the direction of insanely interesting people, publishing books, and much more.
Tony Robbins once said a life worth living is one worth recording. A daily writing habit gives you a reason to get up in the morning, design a noteworthy life, and live a life worth living.
A daily writing habit can be a compass in the geography of a creative life. As Dani Shapiro wrote in her book, Still Writing, writing has taught me everything I need to know about life.
Getting Started with a Daily Writing Habit
To reap the benefits of a daily writing habit, you have to get started. That’s often the most difficult part. But there are some simple things you can to maintain creative momentum.
1. Don’t Judge The Words on the Page
Self-judgment paralyzes so many people and prevents them from putting pen to paper. It helps to remember that all the poetic prose and beautiful writing you read by the people you admire starts out as an incoherent mess. Just as in life, when you show up to the page and expect nothing, everything comes to you.
2. Lower the Bar
When people read about the writing routines of famous authors, they set such a high bar for themselves that the goal becomes unattainable. Start with small, meaningful and attainable goals. If all can you produce is a drop of ink, that’s better than a blank page.
3. Make it a Ritual
Humans are creatures of habit. And habits are the compound interest of self-improvement. Always carry a notebook, because inspiration strikes at odd and inconvenient times.
Put your notebook in a place where you’ll see it every day. It could be a room where you spend time each day or even the table at which you eat breakfast every morning. If you keep it somewhere where it’s easy to see and always within reach, you’ll be more likely to write in it every day.
After 10 years, two books with a publisher, and no contract for a third one, despite numerous attempts at a proposal, I’m still writing every day and I will be until I’m longer physically or mentally capable.
No matter what happens.
A Lover leaves
We lose a job
We fail at something that matters
We can always open a notebook, put pen to paper, and open ourselves up to the adventure that is about to unfold. Every day is a blank page. We can keep reliving and rewriting the pain and stories of our past. Or we can use a daily writing habit to design the future. Developing a daily writing habit is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.