Writing is a way of communicating. Some people can communicate or express themselves better in written words rather than in speech. I’m one of them.
I can write on and on and on … I can talk to … but then I tend to ramble because other thoughts would cut in and I’d ended up changing the subjects without realizing it and confuse everyone in the conversation altogether.
Imagine me in a meeting. Disastrous.
Now that I work as a Content Manager, it’s become a part of my every day life that I can’t escape. I’m not saying that I wanted to. I LOVE to write, don’t you?
The best part is that the benefit from this exercise is not limited to writers (professionals or not) but anyone and everyone can benefit from this habit.
Forming a daily writing habit is not always easy. Forming a daily writing habit included because it forces you to sacrifice some other things and manage your time differently. It’s a discipline and discipline can be painful. (I literally have to get mentally prepared every time I plan to go to the gym. The other voice is still strong.)
There are many reasons you should make a good session of writing a part of your daily routine, even if it’s for 10-15 minutes a day. The trick is to make it into a habit. Get up and do it without even thinking about it. That’s what we’re aiming for.
Why should you write every day?
1. Relieve stress
Writing can be therapeutic. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but it’s true. Vent, complain, whine, cry, scream, yell, talk shit about that co-worker you just can’t stand … put it all on paper. It’s the cheapest way to throw a tantrum without destroying anything, especially your own cool.
It helps relieve stress. You can say everything and anything you have been wanting to say but you can’t do it out loud.
Just make sure you keep this notebook extremely secured. You don’t want it to fall into the wrong (or the right) hands, if you know what I mean.
2. Clear your mind
Scheduling a specific time to write everyday will give you the scheduled time to clear your mind. It will clear your mind of the clutter and help bring forth those hidden issues, tasks, ideas and other projects that you’ve been meaning to take care of.
Order your thoughts, sweep your mind, review your day or your week.
Get clutter out of your mind by writing it all down and forget about it. Trust me, it works.
3. Turn off the noise
Get your mind off the humdrum of the daily life.
Get off the internet and social chatters.
Get away from the email and distracting notifications.
I use my daily writing as a form of meditation and rant. It quiets the mind and open up my brain to receive other things that actually matter.
It’s getting harder everyday to turn off the noise but it’s necessary so that you can have time with yourself to create and grow your mind.
4. Improve communication skills
Daily writing can help improve your communication skills. Communication is very important when we are always online; whether it is the emails, newsletters, chat, talk, etc.
Writing daily will help sharpen your self-expression skills.
If you have trouble getting the point across, daily writing will help keep your mind structured and let you string up words on the spot effectively.
5. Get to know yourself (all over again)
It’s easy to forget your own voice. It’s easy to forget what you really want or even who you really are in today’s world. The speed of things is so hectic that we just often forget why we are doing what we are doing. Lost sight of our ultimate goal, the big picture. Why we start doing what we are doing in the first place.
It can be frustrating when that happens.
Writing daily lets you communicate with yourself. It lets you get in touch with yourself and the what’s and the why’s in your life.
Frustrations, discontent, confusion, discouragement usually come from losing sight of your purpose.
Writing can help keep your goals in check and in view, let you know where you are on the journey and what you have to do next.
6. Strengthen your problem-solving skills
Writing daily can help strengthen your problem-solving skills. It helps you work through your problems.
Who would have thought a piece of paper can help you work through things in your life?
So trivial, right?
But it works.
Instead of panicking, you will be able to react with logical and creative mind. It calms you down and set your head straight and lets you think thing through slowly and work through the problems more clearly.
Well, if anything, you will be able to work through the problems rationally before you hit the big red “Panic” button.
Creating a Daily Writing Plan
Remember, the goal here is to build a daily writing habit. What you write and how you write, which tool you choose to write with is all up to you.
1. Commit 100%
Commit to writing every day. Start with committing to writing for 5 minutes everyday this month. Make your commitment public. Announce it on social network. Announce it to your friends or your special someone.
No need to start big. Ambitious goals are awesome and, personally, I love them. But in creating and nurturing a habit, it’s the perseverance that counts.
You can write with pen and paper in your journal or you can use the online version.
My preference is Evernote. I use it for practically all my writing, journal, articles, personal life, work life, everything. They don’t pay me to say this. It’s just been the tool that works for me (since 2012).
2. Set aside 5-10 minutes of your time
I would say the best time would be first thing in the morning. Just set aside 5-10 minutes of your time to sit down and write.
If the mornings aren’t suitable, you could set time during lunch break or even after dinner.
Just make sure that you make time for it daily.
3. Create reminders
Create a trigger for yourself at a specific time every day to remind yourself to write.
Make an appointment with yourself to write every day.
If you check your phone first thing in the morning, create an alarm on your phone.
If you check your emails first thing in the morning, create a calendar appointment to send you an email to remind you every day.
If you go to the kitchen and sit down to have coffee first thing in the morning, try using sticky note and put it where you will see it.
Refrigerator sounds like a good place to put a sticky note.
4. Focus on the act daily
When it’s time to write, get away from all dings and chimes. Put your phone away. Get away from your computer. If you use the computer to write, then close your browsers and all other programs. Turn off all notifications that will distract you from your writing time.
Use pen and paper if you feel you can focus better.
Even a few words, a few phrases, a few lines would be good enough right now. You don’t even have to write the full 5-10 minutes that you set aside.
The most important thing right now, in creating a new habit, is just to start.
Believe me, once you started, you would be surprised how much you can really write each day.
Now that you’ve done it, it’s time to brag!
It’s actually helpful to report to your friends. The ones who have been making you accountable to the commitment to write every day.
Remember, our goal is to ‘write every day’. It doesn’t matter if your writing is bringing income, earning fame or infamy or anything at all. When you sit down to write when it’s time to write every day, you’ve succeeded for today. Then on to the next day.
You know, you could set up a penalty for yourself if you didn’t write that day.
Think of something really devilish to punish yourself with.
Just kidding. This part, each to his/her own. I beat myself up (in my mind) when I missed my writing schedule. My other friend would go run around the house 3 times as a punishment if he missed his writing schedule.
Or reward yourself when you do it. Whatever works for you.
6. Record it
Make a record. Check ever day you meet your daily writing schedule. Keep it and see how long a streak you can keep without breaking it.
Make it a game with yourself. Make it fun.
Bonus: What to write?
What if you don’t know what to write about?
If you want to use Julia Cameron’s technique from her book, the Artist’s Way, write down “I don’t know what to write” repeatedly until something surface and then go with the flow.
What if you really need a nudge then here are some ideas you can try:
What’s to your left right now? Describe the item and describe how you feel about it.
What do you have to do today? Chores, errands, shopping, etc.
What was the last book you’ve read? Why?
Write a letter to your children.
Write a letter to your younger or older self.
Write a letter to a late relative (say what you thought you should have but never get a chance to or didn’t)
… if you want more ideas, try check out the daily prompt from the Daily Post as a backup plan.
The important thing is to do a little bit every day. Monitor your action. Keep your schedule. See how things align with your life goals and things you might need to adjust or change to get closer to your goals.
Sometimes the best way to keep track of your journey to your goals is to write about them, every day.
Have you written something today? Have you committed to writing every day? Please share in the comment below.