Write every day to free your mind

For the last couple of years I’ve been setting myself a goal to write every day. All my life I’ve dreamed of being a writer, and one thing I know about a lot of professional writers is that they write every single day. They don’t just sit around and  wait for inspiration to strike. They pick up their pen, or sit at their keyboard, and write billions of words of utter rubbish. And somewhere among all the rubbish, they come up with beautiful gems.

Each time I set this goal to “write every day”, I reason with myself that it only has to be a small chunk of writing. It’s not like I have to write an essay or a novel every day. It can just be a brain dump of all the cray-cray stuff that whirls around my head day in and day out.

For example: “I wonder if my pepper feels smug that it gets used more than the salt. Or does it feel overworked and resent the salt? Does the salt feel unloved? Maybe I’ll put some salt on my veggies tonight.”

But despite the very low bar I’ve been setting for my daily writing, I found that I just wasn’t doing it. Until a few weeks ago when one morning I decided to just write. I had nothing interesting to write about, so I decided to go with a stream of consciousness style. This is the type of embarrassing drivel that you hope no one ever comes across in your notebook. It’s completely uncensored, often nonsensical, and entirely boring to go back and read through.

In the process of this first day of my “every day” writing, I was crapping on about how I just haven’t been able to achieve this goal in the past and I didn’t know why. And then I asked myself, “what if you did know why… what would the answer be?” And I came up with a gem.

The gem wasn’t in the beauty of what I had written, but the process of writing it. I was able to dig up the answer to my problem. The reason I haven’t been successful in this goal is because I didn’t feel like it was a valuable use of my time if I wasn’t writing something that could be published. It felt self-indulgent and pointless to just be writing a mundane journal entry. I didn’t see the value in just writing for the sake of writing if I didn’t have something specific and interesting to say.

But in that very entry I had proven to myself that there could be value in just writing for the sake of writing! I had answered a problem that I’ve had for years.

Image by David Schwarzenberg from Pixabay

Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way recommends writing “morning pages”. Morning pages are just three pages of hand-written stream-of-consciousness (AKA drivel) every single morning. It clears all the rubbish out of your head and makes way for creative and clear thinking. Cameron explains that morning pages help us get “to the other side of our fear, of our negativity, of our moods.”

So for the past few weeks I’ve been writing morning pages every day and I think I’m now on track with achieving this goal from my 20for2020 list. I allow a bit of extra time in the mornings so that I can write these pages in my car before I head into work. I’m sure I look like a total creep sitting in my car in the dark underground car park with my notebook, but hey, it works for me!

Most days the three pages are utter crap and I would be mortified if anyone ever read them. But there have been a few entries already that have produced gems – solutions to problems, brilliant ideas, and seeds of thought that may grow into something amazing in the future.

Whether writing is your jam or not, I encourage you to give this a go – even if it’s just for one week. See what kind of magic comes out of your mind when you give it access to ink and paper. Maybe you’ll solve some problems that have been bothering you, or maybe you’ll set free an amazing idea that has been brewing in your unconscious mind. If nothing else, you might just unload some of the rubbish that’s been rattling around in there so that you can think more clearly. It gets easier (and kind of addictive) once it becomes part of your daily routine.

Let me know if you try this and if you uncover any gems.

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My 2020 Theme Word: Responsibility

“You have to start taking responsibility,” my exasperated dad would cry to us kids when we were younger. We would roll our eyes and mutter “whatever” as we tried to skulk away from his complaints. Whether it was leaving our stuff lying around, avoiding our chores, or being general shit heads, “taking responsibility” seemed to be what we were lacking.

Taking responsibility has been a recurring theme in things I’ve been listening to (Brooke Castillo, The Life Coach School) and reading (The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, Mark Manson).

But it’s not just about picking your stuff up and doing your chores. It’s about knowing that you are responsible for how you think, feel and act. Sure, things happen in life that are way beyond our control, but what we CAN control is how we think about those things and respond to them.

It was taking me a while to get my head around this concept. When someone suffers any kind of abuse it’s important for them to understand that it’s not their fault. And now we’re going around saying they have to take responsibility?! Mark Manson has explained this so clearly: Fault and responsibility are two different things.

Someone else may be at fault for something they have done to you, but it is your responsibility to respond appropriately to that action and move forward. Some will remain traumatised and take on the identity of a victim. Taking responsibility means accepting that even though you didn’t ask for this event to happen, it did happen, and now it’s up to you to get through it.

My theme word for the year

My personal theme for the year 2020 is “Responsibility”. I’m working on taking more responsibility for my thoughts, feelings, and actions.

No more blaming other people for how I feel. Every time I catch myself resenting someone or feeling as though they have caused me hurt or inconvenience, I remind myself to take responsibility. It doesn’t matter what they have said to me – I’m the one who has taken that on and made it mean something hurtful. I’m the one who can either let it drag me down or let it go and continue living my good life. I’m the one who needs to take responsibility for my feelings.

In The Courage to be Happy by Fumitake Koga and Ichiro Kishimi, they say we need to stop talking about “that bad person” or “poor me”, and instead talk about “what should I do from now on”. I love that! It’s so much more hopeful and uplifting than rehashing the crappy stuff.

Taking responsibility for my thoughts, feelings, and actions, is actually super empowering. It helps me feel more in control of my life and less like a victim. But it takes work! It’s like constantly having my dad in my ear: “You have to start taking responsibility!”

A late addition to this post:

As I was finalising the draft of this post, my dog heard a noise outside our house and barked as he leapt across my lap. It scared the bejeezus out of me and I half-dropped my laptop, pressing a number of random keys as I tried to grab it. So while I’ve just told you how I’m going to stop blaming others and start taking responsibility, I do blame my dog for any random typos in this post.

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My 20for2020 goals

The moment you’ve all been waiting for (haha)… I’m finally publishing my #20for2020 goals. In 2019 I tried Gretchen Rubin’s idea of setting small(ish) goals for the year rather than a couple of big resolutions. I didn’t tick everything off my list, but I did alright. The key was tracking my progress. Once I stopped tracking, I started forgetting about all the things I was working towards.

So this year, I’m setting 20 goals. Some relate to health and wellbeing, some relate to my physical environment, others relate to career goals, relationships, and community. We’re a month into the year and I’ve been working on some of these already.

Here’s my list of #20for2020:

  1. Run 5km
  2. Donate blood
  3. Read 28 books
  4. Introduce at least one new Rotarian
  5. Run my first Fly Life workshop
  6. Landscape backyard
  7. Have a weekend away for writing
  8. Declutter my house
  9. Have a skin check
  10. Physical activity every day
  11. Weekly gratitude practice
  12. Write every day
  13. Improve my greetings (show warmth and be less awkward)
  14. FebFast – no alcohol for the month of February
  15. Catch up with friends once a month
  16. Date night once a month
  17. Blog at least 24 posts
  18. Make an extra $1000.00
  19. Reduce waste
  20. Complete 3x 30-day meditation streaks

I’m planning to blog about some of these goals in future weeks, so if there are any you are particularly curious about, let me know in the comments! I’ll be explaining why the goal is important to me, how I’m working toward it, and how I’m succeeding or struggling with it.

I’m super excited about my goals. Although 2020 has started off pretty rough, knowing that I’m already making progress toward these things is a bit of a boost.

Have you set any goals or resolutions for the year? I’d love to hear about them!

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