My daily writing practice how has empowered me to change my morning routine
17 May 2021
On this date, I made a commitment to myself to initiate a daily writing practice for the next 30 days. I’d then assess how I feel. I had no expectations.
5 September 2021
This is when I’m writing this article and I am still writing daily. Clearly, that commitment stuck. I have stopped and started with journaling daily previously a number of times in the past. However, the habit never quite stuck for some reason. There is an element of guilt that comes with being a professional writer but acknowledging that until recently, I was not writing or journaling on any kind of regular basis.
Doing the work today to change tomorrow
So, what changed for me? I had come across the book, How to do the Work, by Dr Nicole LePera, a number of times on social media. I’d lost count of how many recommendations I had seen for this book. And then I saw Dr LePera being interviewed by Mel Robbins.
Once I started reading How to do the Work, I quickly became hooked. I enjoy how Dr LePera deep dives into all of the complexities that come with being human. Her holistic approach (Dr LePera also goes by the name, The Holistic Psychologist) was a major drawcard for me. I am a big believer in the universe sending us the things we need at the perfect moment. This book landed in my hands at the perfect time for where I found myself in life early in 2021.
In How to do the Work, Dr LePera takes readers through a number of approaches to move from the subconscious mind into the conscious mind. As someone who recognises that I spend a lot of time in fight-or-flight mode, I appreciate how transparent Dr LePera is with her work. Healing takes time. Moving from auto-pilot to consciousness takes time.
One of the key teachings in the book is to make small daily promises to yourself. Promises you can keep as a way of building self-trust over time. Dr LePera is an advocate for future-self journaling and after downloading five basic prompts from her website, this became an achievable way for me to build a daily writing practice. Armed with the prompts, I knew I could spare five to 10 minutes each day to write. What I could not predict was the difference writing each day would make in my life and the ripple effect this would create. I only had one rule: not to skip two days in a row if I missed one day of writing. After all, I am not perfect.
How daily writing has increased my awareness levels
I can’t overstate how beneficial it is to spend 10 minutes, first-thing in the morning, before work, emptying my mind. My approach changes each day. Some mornings, I feel content sticking with simple prompts. Other days, I allow my thoughts to flow onto the page in their scattered state. Personally, I prefer handwriting to typing because I feel like this allows me to better connect with the words on the page. Also, as more of an anxious person, handwriting helps to slow my thoughts whereas typing seems to feed the over-stimulated beast within.
Each Friday afternoon, I reflect on my writing for the week and more often than not, I am able to pick out patterns. The situations that typically result in certain moods or ways of being. I am also careful not to censor myself when writing. If I feel depressed, I let that flow on the page. If I feel joy, I let that flow. I don’t judge myself. Each mood is okay. It’s about being present and having the guts to ask yourself why you are feeling a certain way and then once you have the awareness, to act accordingly.
The domino effect of my daily writing practice
As my writing streak continued to progress, with time, I felt ready to make another promise to myself. The benefits of meditation are well documented and while I had dabbled in the past, again, I had struggled to make meditation a daily habit. With my anxious brain, it is often difficult to sit still and disallow the racing thoughts to take over. (I understand that this is the exact purpose of meditating, the irony is not lost on me.) Once I made the commitment to meditate daily, I found myself keeping that promise. Soon enough, I was meditating for 10 minutes and then writing for 10 minutes before work each morning. Over time, neither was difficult to do. Now, I find this to be an incredibly calming way to start the day.
A consistent morning routine
I never thought I’d be ‘one of those people,’ who swore by a morning routine. While I have tried hard in the past, I am not a morning person at all. In reality, if I didn’t have to be at work by 9am from Monday to Friday, my eyes would likely not open naturally until 8am or even 9am. The thought of waking up earlier to set myself up for the day was not one that filled me with joy. Until I found myself naturally expanding my morning schedule. My daily writing routine came first. Then meditation. And the final piece of the puzzle (at the time of writing anyway), is deep breathing, which I have introduced after signing up for a course and learning six different breathing techniques. Keep in mind, I had always walked for 40 minutes before work so in total, my morning routine is now a little over one hour.
I do not have kids or a partner. All of these factors make building and having a morning routine easier. I don’t have others to care for or factor into my choices. That said, I do believe we all make time for the things we believe are important in our life. Your morning routine does not have to look any particular way. You can write whenever it suits your schedule. Whether you write first-thing in the morning, during your lunch break, between meetings or right before you go to bed, carving out 10 minutes in your day to write will make all the difference. And if you won’t take my word for it, have a read of what the research says.
Looking for an easy way to develop a daily writing practice? Check out the Write to Thrive 5 Day Challenge.