When was the last time you wrote something? Not for work. Not for your freelance business. Not for an Instagram caption. I mean genuinely wrote; about memories, heartaches, gratitude, dreams. You may be the type of person who tried to remember when you last wrote and automatically thought “I’m not a writer” or “I have no time to sit down and write”. Both of these mindsets are likely why you’ve never thought you could engage in a daily writing practice.
If you have written recently, when was the last time you wrote without censoring yourself or without trying to check off a box in your life? It’s incredibly easy to romanticize the concept of writing and believe that journaling, or writing poetry, reflections, or short stories is only for the creative/artsy types. Maybe you don’t believe that you are that artsy type. When we romanticize writing in this way, we may also start to believe that it must be done in an inspiring environment with a clear goal in mind and no flaws allowed. I’m here to tell you that this simply isn’t true. Writing is one of the most accessible and beneficial forms of creativity that any person of any background or habits can engage in on a daily or consistent basis.
There are many people who believe that writing every day can be a life-changing experience. Researchers have even proven that there is a benefit to engaging in this type of practice. So, let’s talk about five basic benefits of writing every day. Maybe by the end, you’ll find some inspiration to carve some time out for this self-care practice in your own life.
As we all know, we live in a world that is saturated with opinions, voices, and ideas. Scroll through your own social media feeds for less than five minutes and you will see how many voices can work their way into your thoughts and personal opinions. It can be overwhelming. Thankfully, when we engage in a daily writing practice, we can shut off all that noise, maybe for just a few minutes a day, and create a space for our own voice to be heard; even if we are the only ones who end up hearing it. As freelancers it’s important for us to prioritize knowing where we stand on certain issues, give ourselves a space to speak freely, and reflect on what we value. Writing in your journal, in the notes app on your phone, or in a Word document daily can do all of those things and more. As the novelist Joan Didion once said “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see, and what it means. What I want and what I fear”.
When you give yourself the space to write every day, you are choosing to hear and listen to your voice first. What could be more inspiring?
Writing every day also carves out time for you to dump all of your thoughts, feelings, fears, and goals that build up during the chaos of daily life into a personal and sacred space. As we all are very aware, existing as a human in these unprecedented times can be extremely heavy. With that weight comes the similarly heavy characteristics of life that will never change: work stress, family responsibilities, friendships, dreams, failures, etc. What happens when we let all of these things build up and weigh on us over time? Our capacity diminishes. When we take a few minutes each day to write out our thoughts from the day, we increase our capacity to process our emotions, desires, and fears. Writing every day in a brain dumping style may not work for everyone, but for some of us it just might be the outlet we need to clear our heads and refocus on what is important in our current seasons of life.
In this day and age of self-help books, podcasts, and Instagram accounts almost all of us spend seasons looking for habits and practices that will improve our physical and/or psychological health. Did you know that writing regularly might actually be one of those practices? Along with the other benefits we’ve discussed thus far, writing has the ability to positively impact our physical, emotional, and psychological well-being. In a study conducted by James Pennebaker, results showed that participants who wrote about events/memories and their resulting feelings for fifteen minutes over a period of four days experienced improved immune functioning, emotional/physical health, and positive behavioral changes. If just one hour of writing over four days can lead to these positive changes, why wouldn’t we want to carve out time to write each day?
There is power in putting the words that are constantly racing around in your head down onto paper (or virtual paper if that’s your thing). Writing every day is a practice that gives shape and life to what we may never be able to say out loud to other people.
When we write, we press pause on life.
Then, our writing can serve as a reflection of where we are emotionally, professionally, mentally, and psychologically. As a poet, I can say from personal experience that when I’ve given myself space to write, I’ve written lines that reveal a deeper side of me; a side that I am usually too busy or too nervous to see during the chaos of everyday life. Writing every day can be a grounding and meditative habit that brings us back to ourselves.
No matter who you are or what background you come from, there is a good chance that you have experienced some kind of trauma in your life. Trauma can range from surviving life-threatening situations to experiencing systemic racism or even navigating toxic family relationships. There are of course many different avenues to process and heal from these experiences, but I’m guessing many of us didn’t know that writing can also be included in that list. In her book Writing as a Way of Healing, Louise DeSalvo states, “Expressing [a trauma] in language robs the event of its power to hurt us; it also assuages our pain. And by expressing ourselves in language…we paradoxically experience delight—pleasure even—which comes from the discoveries we make as we write, from the order we create from seeming randomness or chaos” (43). Pennebaker (from the study mentioned earlier in this article) also found that using the technique of expressive writing can help us heal from trauma. I highly recommend reading the rest of Louise DeSalvo’s book which you can purchase at your local bookstore.
So, whether you’re overwhelmed with getting your freelance work off the ground, wanting to process traumatic experiences, or simply looking to expand your personal growth, know that writing can be a resource for you. When you write every day you grow. Even if that growth isn’t immediately evident. Plus, part of being a freelancer is knowing your limits, your values, and your goals. Just taking fifteen minutes each day to reflect on these things can have a significantly positive impact on all areas of your life. Press pause. Let go of expectations when you write. Embrace your flaws and your unique voice. Know that the world is better off when what you want to say is allowed to exist in it.
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