Why I Write Every Day—And You Should Too

February 12, 2013

My wife, Heather, discovered the discipline of daily writing while completing a graduate degree in creative writing. A favorite professor urged her to write at least 750 words a day, and Heather enthusiastically gave it a try.

Typing keyboard woman hands

I liked the idea but was skeptical it could work for me. I had my reasons.

I’d been a sporadic journaler for years, beginning in college. I bought a gum-bound writing pad for the purpose and dutifully recorded my thoughts. Over the years I tried everything from spiral-bound school books to hand-crafted leather jorunals. I wrote by hand, and always preferred a fountain pen.

False Starts

Journaling never stuck, however, possibly because I took it too seriously. When using a fancy journal, it felt as if every word were destined for The New Yorker. So if I dind’t have the energy to be creative, I didn’t write.

Also, I was writing only to process my inner life. So if I wasn’t in the mood for introspection, I wrote nothing. And what I did write was so maudlin and melodramatic that it was worthless even to me.

Years later I made another run at journaling using a different technique. I bought an small spiral-bound notebook that I could carry anywhere, and I began use it for everything—my inner thoughts, grocery lists, to-do lists, project ideas, you name it.

It worked for awhile. The little notebooks helped get thoughts out of my head where they could be examined—or ignored. And when I began using the journal for everything, I began to process the world around me, not just my self. It became a valuable tool for creativity and critical thought.

But when I switched the rest my life to an electronic platform—writing, calendar, to-do lists, communication—the journal did not make the jump. I continued to carry a small notebook for awhile, but it fell into disuse.

A New Platform

Enter Heather and her exercise in daily writing. She introduced me to a free electronic platform called 750words.com that has become a valuable daily writing tool.

As the name implies, the site is aimed at the discipline of writing at least 750 words per day. This writing will never be read, never be published, never need be seen again by anyone unless you choose to go back and read it. The sole purpose is to get you writing.

I now use this platform for my discipline of daily writing, and have found it a huge benefit in unexpected ways.

The Payoff

Here are four great reasons to adopt the discipline of daily writing.

1. It gets you writing. Most of the writers I know talk about writing more than they actually do it. If you are a writer, you must write. Daily discipline breaks the dam and gets the words flowing.

2. It is spiritually enriching. Journaling has long been recognized as a personal spiritual discipline, a technique for opening your heart to hear the voice of God. Like solitude, fasting, or silence, free writing is a pathway to self-examination, reflection, and prayer.

3. It is therapeutic. Daily writing is like REM sleep. It is good for your body and mind in ways that aren’t fully understood. It is calming, energizing, restorative. Try it.

4. It boosts productivity. Any good disciple, such as regular exercise or daily prayer, will do the same. When you overcome your internal resistance to doing one thing, you are better able to do other things well.

5. It is a laboratory for ideas. Writing every day gets thoughts out of your head where you can examine them. Good ideas bubble up and you have an opportunity to explore them. Bad ideas look even worse on paper.

Writing every day isn’t something you have to do. It is something you get to do. Try it, and see what a difference it can make in your spiritual and intellectual life.

What is your experience with journaling?

 

Lawrence W. Wilson

Twitter Facebook

I write about life and faith and what it means to be fully human and a fully devoted follower of Jesus. I've written a few books including A Different Kind of Crazy and Why Me? Straight Talk about Suffering. When I have ideas that might help you transform your life and community, I post them here.