Ernest Hemingway, Steven King, and Maya Angelou all made a habit of writing thousands of words every day. But you don’t have to dream of writing the next great American novel or biography to reap benefits from putting pen to paper each day. Here are five reasons to break out the notebook (or laptop) every morning or evening that can help you in both mentally and spiritually.
1. Release Stress
Modern society increasingly understands the importance of wellness, and many are pursuing better mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health routines. Writing can serve a similar purpose: simply writing down your thoughts, stream-of-consciousness style, for ten minutes every day can help release you identify and release negative patterns. Often, issues we didn’t even know were bothering us come out when we give our brains the opportunity to release them. Purging emotions like anxiety, anger, and fear is key to mental health and frees up emotional space for healthier feelings.
2. Train Your Brain
Think of writing as brain-training. Writing just a little bit every day disciplines your mind, teaching it how to better organize thoughts. Writing forces us to be precise in our language, and to progress our thoughts from mere feelings to concrete notions. Stephen King says it best: “We’ve all heard someone say, ‘Man, it was so great (or so horrible/strange/funny)…I just can’t describe it. If you want to be a successful writer, you must be able to describe it, and in a way that will cause your reader to prickle with recognition.” As you write more and more often, you’ll find yourself better able to communicate – on paper, in your own head, and with others.
3. Increase Creativity
While writing a personal diary or notebook can be helpful for clearing your mind, writing short stories or poems can be an incredible creative exercise. Think about it: when was the last time you thought of a plot line, invented characters, and dreamt up dialogue? Both fiction and poetry provide a rare opportunity to switch on our creative brain and break up the monotony of our professional worlds. You may find that this creative spark will carry over into your daily life, bringing a greater sense of humor, joy, and discovery into your work and personal lives.
4. Create a Routine
Even the most free-spirited of us could benefit from a little more structure in our days. Write every day can help establish a routine and give your days some added order. Consider spending a few minutes writing at the same time each evening: it will give you the opportunity to end your day in a mindful and reflective way, and it will become something you look forward to throughout the day – especially if things get hectic and you start craving the sense of relaxation and solitude that writing provides. Plus, like any new habit, if you build it into a routine, it will become easier to stick with! As Haruki Murakami says, “I keep to [my] routine every day without variation. The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism. I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind.”
5. Treat Yourself to Some Alone Time
Whether you’re crafting limericks or writing a thousand-page tome, writing provides a special window to digitally detox and enjoy precious alone time. Think of your time to write as “you time” — just as you might think of time at the gym or at the yoga studio. Writing is your time to release your thoughts, exercise creativity, or relax. However you wish to spend it, it’s your time – and that alone is reason enough to carve out 15 minutes for it.
As EB White famously said, “Writing is an act of faith, not a trick of grammar.” Writing daily changed my life and this year I am hosting an intimate writing retreat where I will share how to get your work published, the steps to writing a bestseller and of course how to make writing daily a real habit.