“I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.” ~ Anne Frank
What is energising me?
What is draining me?
What is within my control to change for the better?
These three simple questions, used as part of a consistent writing practice, changed the course of my life in 2021.
In March 2021, after reading Dr Nicole LePera’s book, How to do the Work, I committed to engaging in a 30-day future-self journaling challenge. Future-self journaling is the daily practice of taking five to 10 minutes to write consciously and shift behavioural patterns using writing prompts.
The first few days were a struggle. I ran on autopilot for most of the day, so sitting with myself and allowing my hands to scribble whatever words emerged, felt strange. What I wrote was often nonsense that didn’t make any sense, but somehow, I felt lighter after putting pen to paper each day.
Before I knew it, my morning rhythm was set in stone. I walked for 40 minutes and then wrote for 10 minutes before work (later, I added 10 minutes of meditation). Daring myself to stare down that blank page each day became like brushing my teeth — innate and a necessity.
Over the next few months, I found I no longer needed Dr LePera’s future-self journaling prompts to write. Words flowed effortlessly, and I was forced to set a timer to ensure I was ready to start work on time.
Awakening my awareness levels
One morning, I wrote a sentence that flawed me and stopped me dead in my tracks.
This business direction doesn’t feel like my lane.
While this realisation was a bitter pill to swallow at the time, it was a necessary truth that forced me to ask myself several hard-hitting questions. Questions that inevitably led to change. First, I realised I needed space to reflect.
So, with a little (okay, a lot) of trepidation, I decided to cease all business activities I could and engage in personal development. This looked different throughout 2021 but involved:
- Taking a couple of soul-nourishing courses where I had the opportunity to meet like-minded people and engage in a lot of reading.
- Listening to podcasts.
- Watching documentaries and anything else I found remotely interesting.
Without my daily writing practice, I never would have unearthed that I wasn’t feeling fulfilled within my business. Without this level of awareness, I likely would’ve ‘soldiered’ on with every minute of the day scheduled.
Engaging in a daily writing practice is one challenge. Having the guts to stare down your truth and do something about it is another challenge altogether. After all, change is often scary.
In my case, what I was worried most about was disappointing other people. However, after much soul searching and contemplation, I concluded that no one benefited from my dissatisfaction. After several difficult conversations, I was able to reorient myself and eventually discover my lane (well, in this moment, at least).
Writing like no one is reading
As a communications professional, writing often feels like breathing. My words come out, often with little thought or conscious energy. In my view, when you think about the most thought-provoking writers, the ‘magic’ really happens in the editing and rewriting process.
Writing for a living is one thing; writing for personal reasons is something else. Staring down a blank page each day, pen at the ready for whatever is on your mind at that moment takes courage. To show up for yourself each day and defeat that blank page time and time again takes commitment.
The power of writing like no one is reading is where true transformation occurs. Like most things in life, the value of writing does not necessarily lie in the outcome. The journey one embarks on makes writing one of the most powerful tools available to us on a 24/7 basis.
Best of all, writing is inexpensive. Grab a piece of paper and a pen, and you’re good to go. There are no waitlists or other barriers to entry.
The only ‘rule’ I recommend people keep in mind when writing is to avoid censoring themselves. To write with the knowledge that no one else will likely be reading their writing. This helps people open up and have honest conversations with their inner selves.
Write and destroy or write and reflect?
Many people believe in destroying their writing and treating their regular practice as a type of purge. Others enjoy keeping their writing to reflect on at a later date. Personally, I see merit in both approaches.
When engaging in my 10 minutes of writing daily, I like to keep my work. At the end of the week, I ask myself three key questions:
- What has energised me this week?
- What has drained me this week?
- What is within my control to change for the better?
If I want to explore something I may find triggering, I set aside at least 30 minutes to allow myself to dig deep. I find the healing part of this experience lies in the process of getting the words out of my head and onto the page. While writing, I can absorb the lessons from the experience and leave everything else in the past where it belongs.
With this kind of writing, I’m fond of shredding. Others like burning their work. Regardless of your personal preference, writing with the knowledge that the work will ultimately be destroyed arms you with an unrivalled sense of freedom that allows your words to flow.
How to get started
If you’re keen to explore the benefits of a daily writing practise, you may find one of the following prompts helpful when first starting:
- What are three things I am grateful for today?
- What is my intention for the day ahead?
- What did I do today that moved me closer to my goals?
When it comes to writing, it’s the journey that has the power to transform us. Writing daily is a simple process but don’t be fooled; simple does not mean easy. Consistency is key.
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