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The Practice of Writing [4 Helpful Tips for Growth]
Writing has always been a place of 'life inventory.' Putting ideas into words gives you a way to describe your feelings, express things, release things, and reflect on things. But in 2021, writing looks much different than what it looked like even five years ago.
We write emails, text, reviews. We often communicate quickly, with emojis🙋, and with abbreviated responses like a 'thumbs up' or '!!' for iMessage or a 'heart' or 'like' on Facebook.
Though with all this other writing, I find that it requires more intentionality than ever before.
For me, I write emails, text, and reviews; but I also write to find. And not just "Best vegan ingredients to cook pasta sauce" or "Coffee shop near me." I also write to find myself- writing allows a place to give myself space and fulfill needs.
For the modern individual, writing as a practice has increased, but the art of writing has not.
We are on an ever-increasing road of learning about self-awareness & self-care; yet, we have very few powerful tools than writing. Of course, much of the mainstream media will recommend journaling, but it's not entirely what I am referring to here.
Journaling often refers to the art of storytelling.
You become the main character and talk about what happened around you. However, the practice of writing is far more about what is happening within you before what is happening around you. Herein lies the difference: What is happening around you often is reactionary to what is happening within you.
And it's subtle. Many know how to interweave these worlds of outside & inside; others do not. I am speaking with the others.
In 2021, writing will only continue to become essential to our life. So here are a few things I outline as a habit to build the practice of writing.
1. Make study (learning) a reverent task:
We tend to do more of what we consider play and less of what we consider work. When many people engage with study, it is connected to their schooling - which relates to negative feelings. Sometimes people ask: should I go to college or not? The question I believe they are asking much of the time is not about school or no school. Remember, all decisions are emotional first.
That means education is much less about if a college degree is necessary and more about: does it give me the permission I need to be a, b, or c. And this is relevant to study because the answer is not yes or no (about college). It's this: once you decide on lifelong learning as a lifestyle if the school happens to fulfill the teaching you need at the time, great!
So when it comes to the practice of writing, make study a reverent task as it gives you exposure to ways people have written, and it gives you other ideas outside of your own. Revere it as something that ought to be sought for its widespread availability and its ability to provide you with an expansive hope in things that may seem complex and impossible.
2. Devise cohesive arguments:
With study, you expose yourself to many viewpoints and opinions that positively influence your writing. Then the magic happens: your writing will influence you. And the way to see this happen is by devising cohesive written arguments. Now, it's worth noting that this is not about actually arguing with people, and this is far less about the confidence you will build in having healthy, heated conversations with others. In this process, imagine the possibility of reading Charles Dickens, Tony Robbins, or your favorite author's work, only to run into something you may disagree with. What great motivation!
In 3 paragraphs or less, write a compelling, cohesive argument and focus on being succinct. This myopic view and length will push your mind to create clarity around a viewpoint. In turn, you will learn how to clarify your thoughts quickly against various perspectives. From there, use a rule of thumb: when you feel it is cohesive, cut it by 50%. This system allows you to demonstrate an ability to get to the heart of the matter. Over time, this leads you to get to the heart of the case more efficiently, leading to better writing.
3. Write incoherent thoughts:
This may sound contradicting to the point above, but let's consider how a stream of thoughts operates in the mind: First, someone thinks... I will be productive today and plan out the day 1, 2, 3. Then, a moment later, as they look at my wall, they remember that they need to pay a bill. Then, in an instant, they think back to the argument they had last week with a friend, and their heart starts to boil up with anger while they walk to the kitchen to make a coffee and notice that they need batteries for the coffee scale. And all of that happened in less than 3 seconds. The mind works with cohesive thoughts with irregular occurrences. If I were to sit with an employee and give her a few tasks for the day, switching and being out of order in my thoughts would be chaotic. But the reason the practice of writing incoherent thoughts is to release them. I remember a well-known minister use to say that he would keep a sticky note next to him when he would pray. Because as soon as he sat down to pray, he would be reminded of important/urgent tasks that need to get done. But rather than be distracted, he could write them down and get back to his higher spiritual purpose in that moment of prayer. Writing incoherent thoughts may help us make space for the things pushed to the back of our minds that desperately need our attention.
Furthermore, writing disjointed thoughts also helps us identify patterns in our thinking. It's said that most of what we think is cycled from the past. Writing incoherent thoughts and seeing that they show up repeatedly gives you the ability to become aware of possibly unnecessary/unhealthy repeating themes and release them! Thus, incoherent writing leads to less mulling over the same ideas and topics repeatedly.
4. Write 1 statement 50 times.
Our minds have a way of bouncing between incomplete & incoherent thoughts. Surprisingly it feels settled holding conflicting ideas. We may think, "I hate when people cut me off on the freeway." Then, we do it and say, "I needed to get over." Similarly, in personal relationships, we state that we disagree or agree with a specific political party, an agenda, or a particular lifestyle choice. Then, we make decisions that contradict that position.
Moreover, where this happens to be the most prevalent and overlooked would be in the psychology of personal growth. We are our own worst enemies. We chant an affirmation in the morning, "I am enough. I am enough. I am enough." And by the afternoon, we feel we are never enough. And not only feel it, but we are looking for proof. It's how the subconscious works. We have some underlying beliefs (good or bad). Then, when some experience happens, we say, "See, this is why I am..." When it comes to the practice of writing, write 1 statement ~50 times.
In the process, you actually may write something you did not know was there!
For example, when I tried this one time, I wrote the statement above, I am enough.
On my way to writing it 50 times (I don't count, btw), I happened to write two times in a row I am not enough. My mind, for a moment, reveals to me a buried belief. Something I didn't know was there. The practice of writing allowed me to 'hear myself,' deep from within.
Much of the practice of writing is about the mental and emotional investment into you. Writing, always, when done as a practice, inspires discovery and peak experiences. Peak experiences are higher emotional moments like an insight, revelation, extreme clarity, and/or a simplified understanding.
Why is this important? Think about this: most people, when they think of the practice of writing, default to the how (what tools, when, where, what to write about). In this, the method of writing is not about that at all!
It's the source and function of mental exploration, which I believe leads to a fulfilling life. The most fulfilling lives are not the ones that live the longest but the ones that are the most emotionally and mentally integrated.
Would you rather live to be 100 years old and spend the majority of your life stuck in the same rut, or would you rather live to be 50 and spend the majority of your time growing? Who truly lives a fulfilled life? Our goal on this earth is not to maximize the number of days we spend on this earth but to enjoy living and the practice of writing is a magical tool on the journey to bring heightened experiences and connections.