Simplify Your Life Month, Day 4: Create a Daily Writing Ritual

For Simplify Your Life Month Day 4, I’m creating a daily writing ritual.

When I was 16, I started a regular journal. Mostly, this journal was a place to pour out my Teenage Angst and Existential Crises. I used to think it was helping me understand myself better.

But what did 20-year-old me’s journals looks like? Angst and Crises, but with better handwriting.

I continued to write regularly into my 20s, and less regularly throughout my 30s. Maybe I was avoiding introspection. Or maybe I had learned that so much looking inward wasn’t actually doing me any good.

Why You Should Have a Daily Writing Ritual

I do miss one particular thing about journaling regularly, though. That moment when, in the middle of a sentence, you go “Oh! That’s what I think about a thing!” For me, it has a way of focusing mental energy in a way that just thinking does not.

In the effort to simplify life, a daily writing ritual helps to clarify your thinking, solve problems, and process emotions so those things don’t clutter up other things you are trying to do.*

It’s a dedicated time for reflection, which our busy lives don’t often let us have time for. In addition, by focusing on one thing only (writing), you are practicing simplifying by way of single-tasking.

By starting your day with it, you clear space in your mind to be present for doing the dishes, working, or playing with your kids. If you’ve “slept on” a decision, writing in the morning can help you resolve that decision.

By ending your day with it, you can process the day’s events, dump your worries out of your brain, and set the stage for more restful sleep.

What Should You Write?

Julia Cameron’s well-known book about developing creativity has readers start with a morning writing ritual of 3 pages of stream-of-consciousness writing.

What do you write? You don’t have to stick to Cameron’s 3 morning pages, though I like them because it’s the right amount of challenge. The stream-of-consciousness approach is also beneficial because then there is no such thing as “writer’s block.”

Write anything you remember about your dreams, what you think about the shoes at the end of the bed, your plan to adopt a cat, why is that person still honking their horn, what you need to do today or what you did today, how you feel about a problem at work, what your goals for the month are, those song lyrics that are in your head…anything.

You can create a daily writing ritual in a way that makes sense to you. If you want to write poetry, write poetry. If you’re falling too deep into the pit of self-reflection with a free-form structure, perhaps writing on a particular topic or using the ritual to work on problem-solving would be a better approach for you. With the popularity of the bullet journal, there are more and more collections of writing prompts to discover.

How Should You Write?

I personally believe that doing a daily writing ritual by hand instead of typing is the way to go. Writing by hand has been proposed to have several brain benefits, though the research is still iffy.

Regardless of the research about cognitive benefits, I will be writing by hand for my ritualistic efforts this month because 1) I like paper, pens, and my handwriting and 2) blogging every day means I need a break from the screen and the keyboard.

What’s your experience like with a daily writing ritual?

*Thomas Edison had a regular journaling habit. And he was an asshole, so we at least know it doesn’t help with that.

I made the bed today.

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