In 2018 I’m doing month long “experiments.” Thirty day journeys into developing habits and routines that I think I may want to implement into my life. At the start of a new year we often have a list of “resolutions” that are vague – things like “lose weight” or “get fit.” These monthly experiments are meant to break a bigger goal down into small steps – steps that will help us figure out if its something we want to add to our routine…or not. Small steps that will help us really develop the habit. May’s experiment was the habit of daily writing.
The Benefits of Daily Writing
Daily writing hasn’t been a goal of mine until I started doing these monthly experiments. At first, I thought that the daily writing would help me to produce more frequent blog posts. That didn’t turn out to be the case. However, I did start my daily writing with the Decluttering an Overflowing Closet blog post of my sister’s closet in the airport after visiting with her.
In May I also listened to the audio version of Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness (and World Peace) and it had compelling research that participants who did 4 minutes of journaling on something that was emotionally significant (2 minutes on 2 consecutive days) had immediate improvements in mood and performed better on standardized measures of physiological well-being.
Isn’t that crazy? Two minutes for two days in a row.
I’ve experienced the benefits of keeping a journal. I think I still have my first diary – complete with a lock and key. If you were to open it and read it, each entry actually started out with “Dear Diary.” Writing has always been a refuge for me. A place for me to pull away and regroup, especially when distressed or confused as a young child all the way through young adulthood. I’m positivef I wrote more than two minutes for two days, so I’m sure it helped my mood and well being!
How the Month of Daily Writing Went
The month went well. I didn’t write every day. I wrote 18 out of 31 days. Most days I wrote on the computer. Some days I wrote in my journal. I ended up just writing about whatever was most pressing on my heart or head. Some days I started out writing about my surroundings – the things I saw and heard just to get started writing.
Jeff Goins says “Real writers do one simple thing: they write every single day. Forming a daily writing habit isn’t easy. It forces you to give up your misconceptions about writing and embrace the truth. It’s not a gift; it’s a discipline.”
Lessons Learned from a Month of Daily Writing
Lesson #1: Set a goal for your daily writing
I initially set my goal for 100 words a day. I changed that to 300. I wanted to make my daily goal attainable but also long enough for me to explore what I needed to during that time.
Lesson #2: Time yourself
I timed how long 300 words usually took me. It only took me about 10-15 minutes. Knowing that helped me to plan it into my morning routine. I knew that I was going to get on my computer and just write for 15 minutes straight.
Lesson #3: Daily writing allowed me to return to writing just for the sake of writing
Blogging started out as a way for me to process my thoughts while I decluttered our home. It’s become something that I wanted to try and “take seriously.” As a result, the writing became more about communicating clearly to my audience. The time that I spent writing was done more for others than for myself.
Daily writing has given me the space and the permission to just write whatever I want – no editing allowed. It was so freeing. I realized how much I’ve missed the clarifying and healing process of writing. It feels good to come back to that.
Tips for Planning Your Own Monthly Experiment
Decide ahead of time when you will do your activity daily.
I decided to try and do it in the morning. Since I started out timing myself, I knew that if I had 15 minutes I could do my daily writing. If I couldn’t do it in the morning, I did it when I got home from work.
Start small. Consistency is more important.
Whatever your 30 day journey is, evaluate where you are right now, and set the daily goal from there.
If your goal is to drink more water, how much are you drinking now? If you drink 16 ounces, then set the goal above that and add on throughout the month.
If your goal is to declutter everyday and you haven’t done any decluttering, set your goal at decluttering one item a day at first. I’ve found with decluttering that a lot of the training is in recognizing the clutter instead of walking around with our clutter blinders on.
Whatever your goal is, doing it daily is the important part. Start small with the amount and increase as the month progresses.
When you feel yourself hesitating, say this to yourself…
At one point during my 30 day yoga journey, I found myself saying, “Ugh, I don’t feel like doing yoga.” I was lying on the ground feeling lazy. As I lay there debating, a statement came to me.
“I am a person who does yoga every day.”
It rang true to me. Yeah, I AM a person who does yoga every day. I got myself up and on to the mat.
If you find yourself hesitating, affirm your desire and intention and see if that changes something for you. For this month, my statement was “I am a person who eats when hungry, not just when food is available, or not based on the time.”
Reward yourself daily or weekly
If your task is difficult for you, plan a small reward after you complete it. It will help you stay motivated.
In June my intention is to practice daily creativity. My hope is to embrace play and try new things that I may not have tried in the past. I’ve been looking into all kinds of classes for adults – voice lessons, ballet classes, art classes. I probably won’t take several at once, but I’m hoping to sign up for at least one workshop in June.