daily writing rituals, writing, morning pages, journaling, daily journaling rituals

Daily Writing Rituals

Over the past 7 years I have developed a daily ritual that has become a key part of my self-care routine. Soon after I wake up, I fix myself a beverage – hot coffee or tea when the weather is cool, and cold-brew coffee over ice with almond milk and stevia in the summer – and sit down in a comfortable spot with my journal and a pen. The pen is usually a fountain pen. I love fountain pens for making my handwriting look beautiful, plus there’s a huge variety of ink colors and it’s much less strain on my fingers and wrist to glide a fountain pen across the page.

daily writing rituals, writing, morning pages, journaling, daily journaling

 

In the course of an hour, I sip my drink and write out my thoughts. Sometimes this includes a recap of the dreams from the night before (in recent months I’ve taken to using a different color ink for jotting down dreams). Often I go over some of the happenings from the previous day. Some days I have a pastry or waffle to nibble on while I write. And I frequently have one of my 2 cats lying nearby, flicking their tail and blinking at me.

Establishing this daily writing ritual has proven to be such a blessing. It starts my day with a quiet, soft reflective activity that allows me space to process and set my intentions going forward. I don’t rush myself or set a timer. I let the words flow out as they need to and I stop when it feels right.

Some days the ritual is a little different. I may do more stream of consciousness writing or a free write in another notebook dedicated for that purpose. Or if the thoughts & ideas are coming really fast, I sit at my laptop and type them out. On multiple occasions the laptop writing sessions have turned into a blog post. But mostly they are for my eyes only.

journaling, daily writing ritual, writing

I’ve had people ask me how to establish a writing practice, or they want to know the “right” way to do what are often referred to as “morning pages.” I’m not a big fan of rules when it comes to generating content, whether for your own personal use or in your career. But here are a few things I’ve learned over time when it comes to journaling as part of self-care and creating a daily ritual that involves writing.

  • Pick a time when you can set aside at least 15 minutes to focus solely on writing. This time may be different from day to day, and there may be days when you cannot squeeze out 15 minutes. But if you can spend 15 minutes scrolling through social media feeds or reading articles online, you can devote 15 minutes to a writing session.
  • Find the writing tools that feel good to you. Don’t want to write by hand? That’s fine – you can use your computer or other device. You can even do voice to text if that works better for you, but know that voice recognition may lead to some unusual copy when you review it later. Do not ask me how I know this.
  • When you don’t know what to write about, keep it simple. Sometimes the blank page can feel intimidating, especially if you are just starting a writing practice. Here are a few opening lines that can get you started. Pro tip: when you really feel stuck, write down a list of things you love or hate.
    • Here is what I know:
    • Here is what needs to be written right now:
    • All the ways in which I have had it: [This is a personal favorite for when I need to rant.]

If you’re interested in exploring analog options for writing, visit my other site, Pensplaining, for product reviews & tips.

LetterMo 2014 Is Coming!

For the last 2 years I’ve taken part in LetterMo, which is short for Month of Letters. Conceived by writer Mary Robinette Kowal, LetterMo is pretty straightforward: every day that the postal service in your country of residence is operating, you are supposed to mail an item. It could be a postcard, an article from a magazine, a cool photo, a letter, a Post-it note…doesn’t really matter. The second part is that for every letter/note you receive, you respond. Kowal is one savvy lady, so she chose February for LetterMo because it’s a short month AND her birthday is in February. (We share a birthday, actually. *fistbump*)

cat, kitten, orange and white kitten

Rooney likes to help open the mail. And by open I mean sit on it.

As I’ve said on the blog before, I love mail. Postcards, long-winded letters, typewritten Christmas letters – I love ’em all. Momcat taught me that sending mail often guarantees you’ll get a response, so hardly a week goes by that I’m not mailing off a note or postcard to a friend or family member. Sadly, very few folks write me back on a regular basis. It’s probably because of that newfangled BookFace thing, where you can click a button and tell someone you like their photo of the cream of broccoli soup they had for dinner, or click something else and you’ve shared that photo with all the people inside that whatsit whosit thing. It’s witchcraft, I tell you. WITCHCRAFT.

But seriously. Check out the LetterMo website and sign up. It’s the most fun you’ll have for less than 50 cents a day.

February is the Month of Letters (Sez Mary)

stationery, postcards, pens, mail, letters, letter writingThose of you who have been reading my blog for a while know how I feel about letter writing. Opening your mailbox to see a handwritten postcard or letter is one of my favorite things. Along with brown paper packages tied up in string, of course.

So when I heard about the Month of Letters Challenge through some friends on a social network, I was intrigued. When I read the post about it on novelist Mary Robinette Kowal’s website, I was excited. And I decided to participate.

The two-part concept is simple: for every day in February that the postal service runs in your area, mail something. It could be a letter, a note, a clipping from a magazine or newspaper, a photo, a postcard. You can mail something to your next-door neighbor or to someone on the other side of the world. Part two of the challenge is to write back to everyone who writes to you. The bonus is that mailed replies count toward your final tally for the month.

I confess, this will probably be fairly easy for me, since I’ve been in the habit of sending postcards and notes and cards to people for the past year. But there are a few letters I have wanted to write and haven’t, for whatever silly reason, so the Month of Letters Challenge is my incentive to finally write that letter to my childhood friend who lives in Europe with her husband and three daughters.

For those who want to participate but are slightly daunted, fear not. I have provided you with some pro tips:

  • On a budget? Check your local thrift shop for like-new, unused postcards and stationery. I’ve scored a large number of postcards from all over the world by going to my SPCA Thrift Store and perusing the stationery/postcard section. Sometimes used cards sneak into the available selection, so check first before buying.
  • Hate your handwriting? You’re allowed to type your letters. Just no emailing. I’m watching you. But consider this: the more you write things by hand, the better your handwriting gets. Unless you’re a doctor.
  • Get some nice writing tools. I am addicted to office supplies, so I don’t need another incentive to go to Office Depot, Staples, or Office Max. Trust me when I say a fabulous pen can make all the difference when it comes to handwriting letters. If you can afford a Waterman or Mont Blanc fountain pen, go for it. (Hint: Lamy fountain pens are fairly inexpensive and write nicely.) Otherwise look for a pen that has nice heft to it and doesn’t make your fingers cramp. I am a fan of Dr. Grip pens, which come in ballpoint and gel ink. I also like Sharpie pens – they are acid free and don’t bleed through paper.
  • Don’t know what to write? Get creative. Relay a funny story about your pet or your child. Share one of your favorite recipes. Transcribe a poem. List five things in a random category, such as favorite movies starting with the letter C, books that changed your life, or your least favorite foods. Hint: using postcards or small notecards means you have much less space to fill up with text.

Join me, won’t you? It should be a lot of fun. You have a day to go buy stamps and find some decent stationery. And if you need some pen pals for the month, check out the forums on the official Month of Letters Challenge website.