Photo by MJ S on Unsplash
The pen is mighty. Put that pen to paper and record your words and thoughts… power.
Why write? I’ve asked that question many times in this blog. This time I’m inviting you to consider writing as a powerful agent of change.
A leather bound journal. A diary. Any simple, humble notebook that can capture your words. Julia Cameron recommends this type of writing it as a daily ritual in The Artist’s Way: 3 longhand pages first thing in the morning known as morning pages. Dorothea Brande proposed something similar, what she called “unconscious writing”, in her book Becoming a Writer first published in 1934. Your writing can be impromptu or just thoughts dashed onto the page. In coaching I sometimes offer prompts followed by a 2 or 3-minute writing sprint. In our Find and Follow Your Spark program we call them Magic Pages. And they are truly magical.
What I have found is that a writing practice can impact you in ways far beyond what is usually thought of when we say “writing.” It doesn’t always have to be about a finished products, publication or book sales.
Your words, captured on a page are powerful. You cannot set your thoughts down, day after day, and remain the same. You will be transformed.
I would suggest you start by doing the morning pages suggested in The Artist’s Way. Experience the effect this will have on you as you develop a writing habit. Power through to that third page because I guarantee you will go someplace deeper and unexpected. But don’t feel this is the only way to do this, that it’s “all or none.” Do one page. Do it several times a week. Just do something on the page.
Here are some other reasons to develop a journal practice and some of the ways I use my journal.
Writing will amp up your listening skills
Listening to yourself, that is. Thoughts run amok through our mind all day. But if you stop to jot them down, you have the opportunity to actually “hear” them.
You might be surprised at what you hear. You might realize that you say these things all the time, both out loud as well as to yourself. You might recognize that these thoughts/words are an engrained habit, not necessarily true. And, unfortunately, those habitual thoughts are not usually encouraging. They tend more toward the “why am I so ____” with the “_____” not very flattering.
How will you capture these thoughts? Those small spiral notepads that fit in your pocket or purse can do the job quite efficiently. As can the notes app on your phone. It doesn’t need to be fancy. The power is in the act of capturing.
Writing is an act of resolve
You may not realize it at first, however if you keep up the practice you will discover your beginning.
In my writing circle, naturally, there are women who want to write. There are also those who have been told they “should write that book.” There are others who are heeding a call for creative expression. And there are some who are there to just see what they’ve got.
There are lots of reasons. And the end result is always the same.
They begin to understand that they have something to say. They recover memories; discover depths. They become reacquainted with themselves. Gradually, change takes over. They find a new beginning
Writing is a place to ask a small question
Ask a small question on the page and keep going. (There’s an art to the small question. Read more here.) But ask them frequently, day after day, or however often you write. Ask and then listen. As you go about your day, notice what emerges: the email, the phone call, the song on the radio, the quote someone shares. Just keep your antenna up and stay curious. Answers abound.
Writing can be a space for praying
In the book, The Help by Kathryn Stockett, the maid, Aibileen, keeps a prayer book. A simple, cheap notepad. For her, putting her praying words on the page was like “electricity, it keeps things going.” So, put your wishes and dreams on your page so they can keep going. Put them out in front of a higher power along with the needs of others in your world who can use this “electricity.”
Writing is a place for affirmations
Affirmations are a way to create new thinking pathways. A journal is a place to test out those statements. Saying it is quicker. However when you speak it the “but” that whispers in the back of your mind could be missed. There’s something about the physicality of writing them, the way it gives your brain those milliseconds to catch up with your hand, that makes a difference. If it’s not quite believable to you – as in the “but” in the back of your mind – you have the chance to edit it until it feels right. If it feels right and believable it will seep into your subconscious and do the work. Dare I say it again? Magic!
There are lots of ways to use a writing practice. You will find things that are particularly helpful for you. Try it. Be curious. Be open to the magic.