How to Start a Personal Writing Practice for Improved Health and Productivity

By Ellen Taliaferro


Start your writing practice by getting yourself seated with pen and paper or in front of a computer. Fifteen minutes a day, three times a week will serve well, though you should feel free to write as often as you wish.

Make yourself comfortable and set the clock for 15 to 20 minutes. Then write as fast as you can without regard for style, spelling, or punctuation. Write. Don't think. Keep the words flowing by imagining them coming from deep inside you or out of the universe.

Remember that your expressive writing will become easier and more natural through regular practice and use. Here are some of the benefits reported by people who have started a writing practice:

 

  • They are more productive and focused.
  • They experience a reduction of stress.
  • They feel better about themselves.

 

You should be aware of some caveats. This is your personal writing, so keep it that way. If you can't keep your writing safe and personal, just write it and then let it go. Some folks have told me that they often write about what is painful and hurtful to them and then with ceremony burn the paper at the end of their writing session.

For example, an acquaintance told me what she learned when she wrote about her African vacation. She said, "It was on that trip that our 23-year-old marriage began to unravel.

For the sake of the children, we managed to get through another year, but then the kids were grown and away so we went ahead and got a divorce. This confused our children, who didn't understand why we couldn't go on together.

So I began the story of our vacation and wrote about all the things that had gone wrong. It was very painful and it made me feel bad. But then later, I felt better. I had new insights that began to explain to me why all this had happened."

In the end, she decided not to show the story she had written to her children. So my friend kept the insights and threw away the paper the story was written on.

Remember that your writing is about you - not about how mean and evil other people are. They may be "not nice" folks who did "not nice" things to you, but your personal writing sessions are about you. For the most part, you cannot control others. You can, however, control some things:

 

  • How you will react to what happened to you.
  • What you will learn from what happened to you.
  • How you will change your life because of what happened and how it made you feel.

 

If your writing makes you laugh or cry, keep going.

If you come up against great and painful resistance, back off and write about another event. Your writing practice will let you know when it's time to visit issues that are too hard to face early on.

Start your own writing practice today. Write for just 15 minutes about whatever bothers you or about any emotionally charged event in your life. It would be great to do this every day, but if time pressures prevail, write a minimum of three times a week for at least six weeks. At the end of six weeks, take stock of your progress.