What do you write down? For most of us, writing consists of emails, task lists, and perhaps the odd work project. However, making time to write down certain things, such as our daily experiences, our goals, and our mental clutter can change the way we live our lives.
Here are six different ways that writing things down can change your life, and what you can do to get the most out of each.
1. It clears your mind for higher-level thinking.
You can clear your mind by writing things down in two different ways.
David Allen, productivity speaker and author of Getting Things Done, recommends doing what he calls a “core dump”. This involves writing down every task, activity, and project you need to address. This could range from picking up milk on the way home, to a multi-person project at work. Writing down every “to-do” item you can think of clears space in your head for more important topics.
You can also use a technique called “morning pages”, which was pioneered by Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way. Morning pages involves completing three pages (around 750 words) of stream-of-consciousness writing. Through doing this first thing each morning, you clear your head in preparation for the day’s most important thinking.
2. It helps you process your emotions.
Writing down what’s on our mind is a great way to work through inner conflict or process your feelings around a particular situation. It’s similar to talking a situation through with a friend, except it’s a useful way of strengthening your self-soothing abilities and enhancing your self-knowledge.
3. It gives you a record of the past.
If you keep a journal and regularly write down your thoughts and feelings, you’ll soon have a record of your experiences that you might otherwise have forgotten.
Reading back through this record is not just fascinating—it also provides a valuable insight into your thought process and emotional life. You can savor moments that you could have potentially forgotten and increase your levels of gratitude.
Keeping a journal can also enhance your levels of self-trust. When you can look back and see how successfully you’ve traversed and dealt with important decisions and tricky situations in the past, you’ll feel more confident in your ability to do so in the future.
4. You gain a sense of achievement.
Writing things down can foster a sense of achievement and progress, expanding our possibilities and increasing our productivity.
If we journal, it’s incredibly satisfying to fill up one or more journals with our thoughts and feelings. Many people harbor dreams of writing a book, but balk at the reality of how long it takes. When you finish a journal, you’ll realize that you have written a book. This opens up a new sense of possibilities, not just in writing but in other areas of our lives, too.
Equally, if we write down everything we need to do in a particular day or week, we gain an additional sense of satisfaction when, having completed the task, we can cross the item off our list. Feeling productive enhances our productivity, creating a virtuous cycle.
5. It helps you think big.
Writing things down gives you space to think big and aim high. No matter what’s going on in our outside world, when we write things down, we enter a world of possibility.
Doing this helps us stay motivated, and it reduces the chance that we fall prey to self-limiting beliefs. (Even if we do, we can keep writing things down to process our feelings!)
When we write things down, we have a chance to explore dreams and ambitions that we might not feel safe revealing to anyone else yet. We also have a space to keep track of all our ideas and desires so we can return to them later.
6. It makes you more committed.
As well as offering a space for exploring possibilities, writing our goals and ambitions down makes it more likely that we’ll achieve them.
As with any goals, they are most effective if they are SMART: specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and timed. These are all variables we can work out and commit to through writing.
Writing down our goals is the first step towards making them a reality. It can also help us stay accountable. When you’ve outlined your SMART goal in writing, display it somewhere you can see for an extra shot of motivation.
You would think since I’m a writer that I would have piles and piles of journals, but I don’t. I have a few scattered in places in my bedroom, most unfinished. But I do have to say, the bits and pieces I wrote were still fun to look back at on. You read something you wrote two years ago to that day and you realize how much things have changed and how it almost feels like just yesterday that you wrote it. Whether you keep a journal that you write in each day, or if you’re like me and write memorable bits and pieces down to read later on, keep doing it. You will get to re-live all those moments some day and recognize just how much you have grown as a person. Some moments will be happy and will bring a smile to your face and others will be sad if you maybe had a bad day that day, but what it will teach you is that things got better, right? Sometimes we need that little reminder.
Some journal writing ideas:
1. My aunt gave me this idea a few years ago, although I haven’t always stuck to it, it’s a good idea for those who are committed to journal writing. Write 5 things you’re thankful for each night before you go to bed. You can write the bad things about the day also if you choose to, just to remind yourself later on that they probably weren’t that bad.
2. Write down the biggest highlight of your day. This relates to the first idea but doesn’t include anything negative. Even if you had a bad day, try your best to find something positive to write down.
3. Create a “Currently Feeling” page about once a week. Simply list how you’re feeling at that exact moment. Don’t explain why, just list them. See how the feelings differ or stay the same as the weeks go on.
4. A “Things I’d Rather Be Doing” or “Places I’d Rather Be” page. This is just a fun, day dreamy idea to let your mind wander a bit.
5. Write a poem or short story.
6. Write down a bunch of your favorite, motivational quotes.
7. A set of goals for yourself. Just because we’re a few months into this New Year, doesn’t mean you can’t come up with some new resolutions. Give yourself your own deadline.
8. Your bucket list. Where do you want to go? What do you want to do? What do you want to see?
9. Doodle. Draw anything that comes to your mind in that moment. Use magazine cut outs, scrap book paper and any other decorative items you’d like.
10. Create an F.A.Q. about yourself! Answer all the questions that people always ask you.
Have fun 🙂
I stumbled upon this website, “The Pioneer Woman,” where an author shared her book publishing process. I thought it was pretty cool for anyone interested in having a book published some day, or even for those doing taking the illustration route. She shared the process for her children’s book, which is even cooler because you get to check out how the photos are chosen for the story. This has been a thought of mine for a few years now that has lingered in the back of my head. It’s still up in the air but I would love to try it one day.