While cleaning my shelves a few days back, I found my older diaries. They struck me as a pleasant reminder of how writing has always been an important part of my life.
And, of how writing has given me so much.
I don’t always journal in diaries now. I shifted to Google Docs, then to Evernote, and now I journal on Notion every day. From time to time, I still like to come to bed at night with just a diary and a pen.
However, the one thing that hasn’t changed about me in the past 10 years is that I write — to express myself, to heal, to feel connected with myself (apart from writing professionally).
Writing for me is a lot of things. But what it definitely isn’t — is a ‘hobby’. I see writing as a craft and a powerful tool, especially during this time.
Most of us are spending a lot more time with ourselves during the pandemic. At this time, writing can not only help us cope but also serve as our very own creative pursuit.
Writing paves the way to greater self-awareness and helps us build a deeper relationship with ourselves. Here are 10 reasons why I write even during the pandemic.
1. To release all expectations from yourself
A lot of things have changed this year. The future too seems uncertain. And, our anxious mind is always looking for a way to feel in control.
For some of us, the way to cope is always working as per an endless task list. But, doesn’t the pressure to always be doing something get too much to handle sometimes?
That’s when you can seek solace in writing. That’s what I do. Sometimes to break away from all the frenzy, I just sit down and write. In those moments, I stop rushing. And just ‘be’.
You can try this for yourself too. If you don’t know what to write about, writing exercises can be super helpful. Here’s a simple one for you to try.
- Sit down with paper and pen. Take 10 deep breaths.
- Follow this grounding writing exercise — Look around you. Name 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste. If you feel comfortable, focus on details, such as color, texture, or shape.
- Now, if you feel any strong emotions, try to write about them. Acknowledge how you feel at this moment through writing.
That’s it. This simple writing exercise will help you release all expectations from yourself.
“When you release expectations, you are free to enjoy things as they are instead of what you want them to be”
― Mandy Hale
2. To appreciate everything that exists
If there’s one form of writing I’d recommend everyone to do, every single day, it’s gratitude journaling. You don’t need to be a writer to do that. You just need to set aside a few minutes to write down things that you are thankful for.
Even if you think you’re a grateful person, you’ll still be surprised to see the quality of your life improve if you start ‘practicing gratitude.’
Gratitude journaling can change how you feel even on those frustratingly bad days or in longer periods of grief. It won’t magically lift your mood or make your problems go away. But it’ll definitely give you a new perspective.
“I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness. It’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude.” — Brene Brown
3. To create because I can
Isolation can make things really hard. You have fewer interactions. You speak fewer words. Your existence begins to feel slightly less meaningful. You might even have days when you feel like nothing matters.
One of the greatest things about writing is that it can save you from feeling insignificant.
How? By empowering you to create. By empowering you to tell your own story. And let us all agree that there’s nothing as inspiring and comforting as stories told from the heart.
If you’re struggling, write about your struggles. If you’re building a habit, write about what’s working for you and what isn’t. If you’re learning skills, write about your goals and your progress.
There’s something so human about being able to write about your life.
It’s being able to look at my stack of weathered notebooks and know that I’ve created something, just for the sake of it. For the sake of remembering that I am a human and therefore can create. And that when faced with the choice to either create or not create — I went forth and created.”
― Matthew Trinetti
4. To share what I know
To be able to write is a skill. But, it’s also a great gift.
If you empathize and relate to the struggles of others, you can try to help them through your writings.
What you write doesn’t always have to be about you. It can be about issues you care about, people you care about, and the causes that you care about.
For instance, as someone who trains as a dancer, I’ve experienced the struggles of a beginner dancer myself. I strongly believe that with the right resources, mentors, and consistency, anyone can train to be a great dancer.
However, most beginner dancers struggle in finding the right information and lose motivation along the way.
During the lockdown, the entire dancing community across the world started taking classes online which means that there are numerous resources out there available for free. So I went ahead and created an online repository of resources for beginner dancers on my blog and shared it with all my dancer friends.
“I think the most famous piece of writing advice that there is is “write what you know,” and I think it’s — honestly, I think it’s the best piece of advice there is, but I think it’s the most misunderstood, most mistaught, most misinterpreted piece of advice that there is. — Nathan Englander
5. To hear myself out
This is a big one for me. Writing allows me to have a conversation with myself when I want to be heard.
I believe that all of us have a need to be heard. It makes us feel visible and significant. It also helps us unravel our thought loops. Some of us are able to express ourselves freely, while others struggle to share what is on our minds.
Sometimes, the people who understand us the best are not available to lend us an ear. Sometimes, people are struggling with their own problems and are unable to truly ‘listen’.
In all such times, I am able to find a lot of comfort in writing. Especially during this time of isolation, journaling every single day is my way of pouring my heart out into paper.
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
― Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
6. To fulfill my curiosity
Sometimes I write simply because I want to explore what I can do with my writing.
Can I document my daily dance journey and then use it as a script to host a daily podcast? Can I do a 30-day daily log streak in my bullet journal? Can I write an article on 8 reasons why I still write every day during the pandemic?
Sometimes it starts with a topic that I’m feeling excited to read and write about.
For instance, after watching The Social Dilemma, I’ve had an idea to make a detailed guide on How To Really Use Social Media. I want to find a balanced way to approach using social media platforms so that they benefit us more than harming us. Perhaps, my next article will be about that.
I just pick up topics that I am curious about. And I start writing. It’s really that simple.
“I wrote that book anyhow, because I needed to write it for my own intimate purposes — and also because I was curious to see if I could convey my emotional experiences adequately on paper.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert
7. To challenge yourself
I love challenges. I feel that they are a great way to build new habits/skills and stay inspired. There are so many writing challenges out there for you to try.
The month of November is the National Novel Writing Month during which writers across the world attempt to write a 50,000-word manuscript between November 1 and November 30.
You can simply challenge yourself to write a fixed number of words every day. For this, you can take the help of daily writing prompts. If a daily writing challenge is too overwhelming for you, you can start by setting aside a day just for writing. For me, that day is Saturday.
Either way, setting up a writing challenge is a great way to build your skill and confidence as a writer. If you already write regularly, then your writing challenge should push in new ways. It could be about writing more words in a day or about writing on topics you’ve never written before.
“Am I challenging myself? If I’m not challenged or if I’m not surprised or if I’m not in a new place by the end of the writing then I was at the start, then I haven’t done my own job to myself. You gotta end somewhere new.”
― Josh Healey
8. To give hope
Every time I read a personal story written by other writers on Medium, I am inspired. For instance, the two amazing stories I read today were from my friends Vishal Kataria and Anangsha Alammyan. One was about breaking out from the habit of binge-watching and the other one was about making $1400 from Medium in a month.
Reading the real-life experiences of other people motivates me and re-instills my belief in story-telling. It makes me show up and write.
Write to give hope. Write to inspire people to dream. Write to paint a picture of a better world. Write to let people know that whatever it is that they’re going through, they can get through.
“That’s what we storytellers do. We restore order with imagination. We instill hope again and again and again.”
― Kelly Marcel & Sue Smith
I am Shreya Dalela, a copywriter & digital strategist. I help companies and individuals create a powerful brand voice and effective content marketing strategies.