I believe writing and the self are intimately connected. Through writing, you can explore your unconscious thoughts and learn more about your desires, your fears, and ultimately what you most want out of life. The tricky part, though, is learning how to get past the self-critical conscious mind. It’s not always so easy to push aside the voices of I-can’t or I-shouldn’t to the clear part of the mind where you know exactly what you want and have no doubts that you can achieve it.
So how can you do it? It’s easier than you think.
Make Yourself Comfortable
Create a space and time that is just for you and your writing. I like to write first thing in the morning before anyone else is awake. I sneak into the kitchen, heat some water, and make myself a tea. The writing process is one of ritual, and my tea becomes part of the ritual, too. It’s a time for you to sip your favorite beverage, steeped to the strength you love and poured from your favorite pot.
Find Your Tools for Writing
You can type directly into the computer if it’s more comfortable for you, but there is something so luxurious about holding a pen or pencil that fits perfectly in your hand as your words glide smoothly across the paper.
There’s an art to choosing a journal and writing utensil. I like clean, freshly sharpened pencils. I draw more and love that I can smudge the charcoal to create shadows. I’m also a fan of fountain pens — the modern ones that have ink cartridges, though, not the ones that would require me to dip my pen into an ink pot. Your notebook can be whatever feels right to you. The only guideline is that whatever you choose should be a pleasure.
Then, and only when you’ve cleared this space just for you and your writing, it’s time to put that pen to paper.
Here are four writing prompts to get you started.
1. Free Writing
This is the mother of all writing prompts. It’s simple but extremely powerful and helps you brush away any concerns, self-criticisms, and anything else that gets in the way of your writing. It helps you move past worrying that you’re not good enough or concerns about what you “should” be writing and instead lets you just write whatever comes to mind.
Set a timer for 10 minutes and just start writing. You continue writing until the timer goes off.
There are only two rules for this writing prompt.
- One. Don’t stop writing. No matter what happens. No matter what thoughts go through your head, just keep writing.
- Two. Don’t erase anything. If you want to change what you’re saying, no problem. Just stop what you’re writing, skip to the next line and keep writing.
At the end of ten minutes, take a break, maybe get a cookie to go with your tea, and relax. When you go back to your writing, reread it. What catches your eye? What makes you think? Does anything surprise you? Simply underline those parts.
2. The “Self-Care” Prompt
Self care means many different things. It’s that teacup in your hand and the time to drink it leisurely and without interruption. Self care can be taking the time to get your hair cut, make doctors appointments, or another smallish life details that make you feel good. Or it can be larger, a recognition that you need to change something in your life that is no longer working, like a job or a partner.
Spend ten minutes writing down all the ways, big and small, you can practice self care. Again, write without stopping, changing, or judging.
When you’re finished writing, how do you feel? Did you find you take good care of your needs? Or do you need to place greater emphasis on you? If the latter, make a mental commitment to do something nice for yourself every day.
3. The Gratitude Journal
I write in my gratitude journal when I’m feeling down or frustrated. I sit and write all the things that make me happy in life and all the things for which I am thankful. Much like the self-care prompt, what you write can run the gamut from seemingly insignificant to life changing.
Spend ten minutes writing down what you’re grateful for, thankful for, happy about, and looking forward to. Everything.
You’ll be amazed at how a daily practice of gratitude can improve your life.
4. Picture Your Perfect Life
Close your eyes, breathe in the aroma of your tea, and imagine all the elements you most want in your life. Do you wish you could travel more? Or are you the sort who wants to settle down in your dream home and decorate it exactly as you wish? Would you start a business? Would you sell everything and move to another country?
Now open your eyes and write your story and include all the elements you’ve imagined. Describe the life you would live if you could do absolutely anything without any obligations or fears or restrictions.
When you’re done writing, ask yourself a question: What stands in the way of living your life the way you imagine? What if I told you those obstacles are easier to remove than you think?
Are you interested in further expanding your writing?
These prompts are part of a week of Creative Revolution Retreats workshops I’ll be leading for a women’s only Writing, Yoga, and Self Renewal Retreat in Costa Rica this coming February 2015. During our week in Costa Rica, we’ll be getting spa treatments, doing yoga, meditation, and generally pampering ourselves while we work on helping you become the writer you’ve always wanted to be.
Join me for a free webinar to expand your writing. You can see our complete listing of webinars as well as download past webinars on our Creative Revolution Retreats webinar resource page. And as a thank you to Plum Deluxe and all the wonderful ways they support self care and the beauty and pleasure life has to offer, Creative Revolution Retreats would like to extend a Plum Deluxe special offer to our retreat just for readers of Plum Deluxe. Sign up by November 30, 2015 for this special price.