Why everyone stands to benefit from a personal writing practice
Writing to publish is one thing. It can be a great thing. But writing to pray, discover, communicate and connect is completely another. Writing done, not just for the sake of writing, is taking ownership of our own lives. That form of writing helps us gain confidence in ourselves, our ideas and how we move the world. The invitation to write is an invitation to find your voice.
Making space in your environment, in your mind, and on your calendar
Sitting down to write helps us slow things down. It allows us to fully present with our thoughts and to ourselves. It only takes a few deep breaths to notice our thoughts, pick the one we want to focus on, turn out the rest and then start writing. As you sit to write, you might notice your thought patterns don’t make much sense and that your thoughts are slightly terrifying. It is completely okay. In fact, it’s normal. Some people suddenly feel worried that their minds are blank (which is not true). Instead, you might even find thoughts you’ve never found in a million years.
Why your brain gets stuck and strategies to help
Have you ever experienced the moment when you write something that just comes out? Maybe it was an angry email you sent in haste. Maybe it was a journal entry you wrote in the middle of a tragedy. Chances are it had terrible grammar but it was gut-wrenchingly honest. There’s something about capitalizing on charged emotion that makes the writing seem so effortless. You know what it feels like to write from that state. Something happens in your mind and for some reason, you’re not thinking about sounding smart or getting the grammar correct. You lose all sense of the consequences that might follow.
For one thing, writing takes considerable thought. But there are different ways of thinking about a thing and even different parts of the brain do its own thinking. What if thinking with your rational brain is keeping you stuck in your writing and thinking with your emotional brain will help you get more done in less time?
Why giving your writing the right destination unlocks your words
One trick to prevent getting stuck is to write as if you’re writing a love letter. When you’re writing to your loved one, you’re not considering yourself as an onstage sort of person. It solves the feeling that your writing is going nowhere and puts you into a more safe, stable and private environment.
For example, in writing an imaginary journal entry to your boss, you may feel free to admit you’re actually quite frustrated with your job, or that you have a coworker who’s a huge problem. As far as disclosing your feelings to your boss is concerned, you can make that decision later, but it’s helpful for you to express how you truly feel.
The myth about endings and how to get a “happily ever after”
The chaos and confusion that comes right before the ending of a movie, book or a story is the technique used by storytellers everywhere. This ending is the moment the hero you’ve been following is about to make a free throw shot and their worst shooter is on the free throw line.
The technique is powerful not only because it keeps the audience hooked, but it also mimics real life. Often, we’re standing on the line of a happy ending, of something new and exciting right around the corner, even when things are falling apart. If you think of your life as a story, you start to realize that maybe all is not lost, and that you’re just standing in the peak moment right now. How does it change the way you see it? You’re the hero of your story. Only you can choose what happens next.
How words make you a person of influence
Take a minute to think about the person who has had a profound influence on your life. Maybe he or she is your parent, sibling, a teacher you had in high school. Or maybe someone you don’t know personally at all. To influence someone means to have a transformative effect on their lives. To be a player in their story. But the sad majority of so-called influencers today are doing nothing more than conveying a false reality.
When we idolize the wrong people (let’s say an Instagram influencer), we find ourselves mimicking them, perfecting and refining our photos and captions, spinning the story of our lives until we feel completely disconnected from our authenticity. This is the only influence we’ll ever have, constantly feeling bad about ourselves.
The good news is words give us back our power. If we can learn to use words to tell the truth, we move beyond the surface and need to get attention, likes, comments and actually become a true person of influence. Words focus less on how many people are paying attention and more on the message we’re offering.