Even if you don’t aspire to become a writer, writing on a regular basis is a wonderful way to connect with your creative spirit.
Make a Commitment
By putting pen to paper, you are announcing your commitment to yourself to be open to new ways of looking at your life. Writing on a daily basis connects you to lost dreams, insights on situations that trouble you and your hopes for the future.
Julia Cameron, in The Artist’s Way assigns “morning pages,” three pages of stream-of-consciousness writing done upon waking. By clearing out the clutter in your mind, and depositing it on paper, you are opening a path to your creative source.
By developing a writing practice, you learn to look at the world through a writer’s eyes. In A Writer’s Book of Days, Judy Reeves defines writing practice as “showing up at the page. … It’s writing for the experience of it, forming the words, capturing the images, filling the pages.” Think of writing practice to the writer as a daily run is to the marathoner.
At its most basic, writing practice involves putting pen to paper and writing on a topic for a set amount of time. The “rules” include-Don’t think. Don’t try to be logical and polite. Follow your first thought and its emotional draw. Keep writing without rereading, crossing out, or editing-this includes fixing spelling, punctuation, or grammar.
If you stop writing and find yourself staring at the page, it is a sign that you are forcing yourself to write what you think you should as opposed to what is within you trying to get out.
So what should you write? Writing teacher Natalie Goldberg, in her books Writing Down the Bones and Wild Mind, suggests that you go some place other than your home, sit down with your notebook and write what you see around you. Write through a memory, evoking the sensory details of the experience. Or, do writing prompts.
Writing prompts are a phrase, both vague and evocative that encourages you to write. Different people writing off the same prompt will write on diverse topics. You can return to the same prompt days, months, or years later and the experiences in your life will likely trigger you to write something else.
Examples of writing prompts include “He sits down and says, ‘It’s time to talk.'” “Write about a gift.” “‘It’s hard to explain….'” “Write about a kitchen.” Writing prompts may inspire you to write fiction, or they may evoke memories of events in your life.
It is also helpful to put a time limit on your writing-keep pen to paper for ten, fifteen, thirty, sixty minutes. The timeframe keeps you focused on writing instead of contemplating what to write. If you have only 15 minutes to devote to writing today, you can still sit down and write.
When you first engage in a writing practice, you may feel that you are complaining or whining instead of expanding your creativity.
Try writing everyday for a month, without reading what you’ve written. Then, scan through the pages, looking for patterns. In future days, write about why you believe these patterns exist. What memories of events, people, and places do you evoke in your writing?
Keep writing and push yourself to be honest with the emotions behind the words.