I don't consider myself a writer.
Not in the traditional sense at least.
I don’t aspire to write a book.
But I do want to tell better stories.
And share more written content.
And speak clearly.
And get all of the thoughts and ideas out of my head.
In 2018, I am going to practice writing daily. I have many reasons why, but these are my top 3 :
WRITE FOR A CLEARER MIND
2017 was a roller coaster of a year and one of the things that helped me get through it was when I took the time to write what was going on and journal about how I was feeling. The vast majority of what I wrote last year was meant for my eyes only and journaling continues to get me through hard days. Even knowing that, it was almost always something that I put off over and over. I still do. I imagine I’d have five times as many entries if I would have just written when I felt the urge! I know that the more I do it, the more I want to continue doing it.
Getting all of the thoughts and to do’s and ideas out of my head and on paper are so extremely helpful for me to remain calm, content and focused on what I need to be working on, thinking over, or not worrying about. Something I am working on a lot these days is mono-tasking, or working on just one thing at a time. If I’m making dinner, I’m only making dinner. If I’m listening to a podcast, I’m only listening to a podcast. Of course the random thoughts and distractions are still there, so I keep a notebook close to write them down, but then it’s back to the task at hand.
WRITE TO BECOME A BETTER SPEAKER
One of the most noticeable benefits to writing I’ve experienced is that I'm able to clearly communicate my thoughts. Admittedly, I have a hard time “spitting it out” and can talk in circles about the point I’m trying to get across. I’ve dealt with a lot of brain fog, especially in the past year or two, and that has caused me to have difficulty concentrating and organizing my thoughts, memory issues, and having a focused conversation with someone. By processing my thoughts and regularly getting them out of my head and written out (even if it’s not pretty and perfectly edited), I hope I will improve my verbal communication skills as well.
WRITE TO BECOME A GREAT STORYTELLER
I have been a memory keeper for over 10 years and my style and approach has changed so many times. In recent years, especially this last year, I have felt a shift in my desire for my projects to be more about the words and the photos and less about the paper and stickers I’m using. When I look back at my favorite projects, they almost always include longer detailed stories about the moment. Whether it was Christmas celebrations when the kids were babies, or an experience we had while traveling, I never ever regret the time I took to write out the specifics about what I documented. I can look back at a photo and say “aww, wasn't it just yesterday when the kids were that tiny?” but the written text describing that day or that interaction (that I had likely completely forgotten about) is priceless to me. By developing this writing habit, I hope to become a better storyteller, both in what I share online, but for my own personal creative projects.
I don’t have a goal with all of this per se. Not one that I can check off of a list at least. I'm not trying to hit a certain word count each day. I'm not focused on writing about any particular topics, though that very well may change as the months go on. I’m considering this more of a practice. Something I want to intentionally do each and every day. These three thoughts, however, keep coming to mind:
- I want to remain curious + aware of what themes keep popping up. Whether it’s memory keeping, grief, goal setting, mindfulness, adventures, organization - what topics and issues are speaking to me right now?
- I want to refine exactly what scrapbooking projects I commit myself to, and go all-in with them. Fewer projects, more details. I'm really cutting back on what I'm making this year, but that doesn't mean I'm documenting less. I hope to write more about that soon.
- I want to change what I share online - particularly what and how. I want start a email newsletter. It’s been fun to brainstorm content ideas and how it will connect (and differentiate) from my blog and Instagram account. I envision it to be something you look forward to opening, something that will inspire you, or get you thinking about your own situation and not just another email with a collection of more links for you to open and consume.
So, here’s a little breakdown of the details of my daily writing practice :
WHAT // writing for at least 20 minutes a day. It can be a mix of personal journaling, blog posts, reflections on a book or podcast, maybe even an Instagram caption.
WHEN // 9am on weekdays, whenever I get a chance on weekends.
WHERE // in my office.
WHY // because I want a clearer mind, I want to be a better speaker and I want to be a great storyteller.
HOW // on my computer, using the Ulysses app.*
I have been actively experimenting with all of these details above, particularly the when and where, to find my best flow. Based on past experience with creating solid habits, I know I am more likely to succeed if I do it in the morning. After four weeks in, I know weekends are tough to sneak away and I just do it when I can. Or not. No big deal. All of these are subject to change.
*And about Ulysses. While Evernote has been my digital BFF for years, I was looking for a simple, distraction-free app where I could dedicate all of my writing to and nothing else. Ulysses has fit the bill perfectly.
Do you want to track a new habit this year? My goal tracker above is from Elise Blaha Cripe. You can get yours by signing up for her newsletter on her website here.
Do you want to learn more about habits and living your best life? I’m a huge fan of James Clear and I highly recommend his newsletter as well. I had the pleasure of watching him speak about the power of small habits last September and it was fantastic.
Do you want to be a better writer too? I’ve gone through seanwes’ 30 Days to Better Writing course 3 times since it launched and I've taken in something new with every round. This time, I'm determined to make the habit stick.