I write something everyday.
Okay, fine, I write something 92 percent of the days, which is enough days that I can consider it a habit.
In college I discovered a site called 750 words run by a great guy named Buster. It’s exactly what it sounds like; everyday you write 750 words. In Buster’s words:
I’ve long been inspired by an idea I first learned about in The Artist’s Way called morning pages. Morning pages are three pages of writing done every day, typically encouraged to be in “long hand”, typically done in the morning, that can be about anything and everything that comes into your head. It’s about getting it all out of your head, and is not supposed to be edited or censored in any way. The idea is that if you can get in the habit of writing three pages a day, that it will help clear your mind and get the ideas flowing for the rest of the day.
So you wake up and get all the thoughts out of your mind—somewhat like the way you open up a container of mustard and clear the old crusty part off the top before you get to the good stuff. That’s a gross analogy, I know, but every time I think about 750 words I can’t help but think about mustard.
In college it was hard to hit 750 words, excruciatingly hard, and I couldn’t get into the habit. I think letting my thoughts flow freely without judgement was too difficult at the time.
Fast forward a few years to a point where I’d learned to silence the inner critic and let the words flow:
I eventually hit a 66 day streak. I grew to really love the part of the day where I just wrote about whatever I wanted to write about (the green checkmark signifying the daily accomplishment also helped).
Thanks to a tip from a close friend, in March I switched gears to OhLife, which is the same in that it encourages you to write daily but without a word count. In their words:
- We send you friendly emails asking “How’d your day go?”
- You reply and write as much as you want - that’s it!
- You end up with a really neat collection of your life stories.
I liked 750 words because it helped me clear out my mind while allowing me to keep a running narrative of my life—although I never would go back and reread my entries. I didn’t think I wanted to.
OhLife, on the other hand, makes it easy to reread entries because every time they send you an email they include one of your previous entries:
Oh snap, remember this? One month ago you wrote…
Most days I don’t reread the entries but every now and then I’ll skim them for a quick trip back in time.
That is the point of this post: taking quick trips back in time (especially when you’re life is moving 100 mph).
When taking a look back in time you can easily see the ways in which you’ve changed and the ways you’ve stayed the same (it’s really noticeable during transitions or challenging periods: new job, new relationship, chasing a big goal, etc).
My first thought when I reread an entry is usually, Whoa! That’s what my thinking is like? It sounds weird to think about your thinking but revisiting thoughts after the stress or emotion of the moment has faded puts the situation in a new and interesting light.
My next thought is usually, Wow! I let that situation cause so much stress in my life and it ended up working out just fine. I should have trusted myself more.
This happens because a lot of my writing centers around whatever I’m most anxious about that day (this makes sense if you’re writing to clear your mind). While being overly-anxious isn’t very productive, writing about your anxiety and then revisiting it can be very helpful because you’re reminded that despite the ups and downs of life, you’re moving forward. A month has gone by and you’re still alive to write about whatever it is you’re writing about.
Where the magic happens though is when you read something and realize how far you’ve grown. When you realize that the thing—the problem at work, the new relationship, the tiresome insecurity, the debt, etc-that has been occupying an unfair share of your mental and emotional energy isn’t taking up so much space anymore.
Because it’s a reminder that you’re strong enough to tackle what life is throwing your way. You took something you thought was a very large problem (perhaps an unsolvable problem) and with time and effort turned it into a small (and perhaps non-existent) problem. This is important because it allows you to pause and appreciate the moment. More importantly, it is proof that you’re the type of person capable of overcoming life’s challenges.
This means the next time a tricky situation arises you can remind yourself that in the past you’ve been able to turn big problems into little problems and if you’ve done it before you can do it again.
That confidence, that feeling of I have done this before and I will do it again can make all the difference in the world.
That’s why I write something everyday.
Try it. You might be surprised by what you discover.