Recently, I was reflecting on how important writing rituals have been throughout my life, even before I started writing professionally. Even as a child, I loved corresponding with pen-pals and keeping journals. My current writing practices feed my soul, help grow my business, and let me have fun with words and story.
Adopting a writing practice doesn’t need to be intimidating or feel like work if you choose one that fits into your reality. I hope that by sharing some of my favorite rituals, I’ll inspire you to incorporate more writing into everyday life.
Highs, Lows, and Giving Thanks
In college, I gifted my best friend a journal that we would pass back and forth. In it, we kept a running list of things that brought us joy. Nothing was too big or small to include in our list. We gave thanks for family members and our safety. We gave thanks for Starbucks caramel macchiatos (which were way hip back then) and good hair days.
My current gratitude practice was inspired by this college journaling exercise. It is designed to fit into my busy schedule so that I never miss a day. I keep a hardcover Moleskine journal in my nightstand. Before I lay down at night, I write the following in the book:
my highest moment of the day
my lowest moment of the day
three things for which I’m grateful
It’s the perfect formula for me because, no matter how tired I am, filling in those blanks seems attainable. It allows me to celebrate a win, vent about something frustration, and then refocus on the abundance in my life.
Crystalizing Your Goals
Affirmations are positive statements that can be meditated on, repeated aloud, or kept visible in the home or workplace. They are phrased in the present tense as statements of fact, not written as wishes or hopes. For example, an affirmation might say “I am building a business that lets me live a life I love” (as opposed to “I hope to build . . . “) or “I am a patient, loving mother to my daughter” (rather than “I want to be more patient . . .”) I have come to rely on carefully crafted affirmations to keep me focused and positive throughout each year, each day, and each challenge.
I don’t think affirmations are magical or that they create change in and of themselves. I do, however, think they help to cultivate a mindset that is ripe for doing the work necessary to make big things happen. I’ve used affirmations to help me achieve everything from booking three months out with writing projects to making it through a natural, unmedicated childbirth. You can meditate on or recite your affirmations while stuck in traffic, in the shower, or at a yoga class. I find that choosing or developing a few affirmations that truly resonate and focusing on those works best for me, rather than reciting a laundry list of feel-good phrases and paying less attention to each.
Put a Stamp on It
I often say that one of my dream jobs would be to work as a letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service. Most people think I’m joking, but I’m actually a little bit serious. Real mail is one of my absolute favorite things. It’s always been kind of amazing to me that you can put something into a box in one place and, when properly stamped and addressed, it can make its way into the hands of someone anywhere else in the world.
I still regularly write handwritten notes in my grade-school cursive script to friends, family, and even my second-grade teacher with whom I’ve maintained correspondence for nearly 30 years. I write out holiday cards and thank you notes and birthday cards. I send postcards and notes to my clients as part of my onboarding process, to thank them for their business, and to celebrate their milestones. It takes a little more time and effort than an email, but not a crazy amount of time. Plus, it stands out. Receiving a personal note amidst the usual slew of catalogs and bills is such a treat. I love providing that experience to those in my life. If you want to try incorporating more handwritten correspondence in your life and business, here are some supplies I recommend:
Postcards & notecards (with envelopes)—check out Of Note Stationers for some gorgeous letterpress style cards.
Stamps (both “Forever” stamps and postcard stamps)
Return address stamp or stick-on labels—I love my self-inking stamp from MJs Art Stamps
A pen you love to use—my go-to pic is the Pilot G2 Gel Pen, Extra Fine, Black
The Gift of Story
When I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, I immediately scoured Etsy for a special notebook. I wanted to start writing letters to my baby about the pregnancy. I continued the practice after she was born and have now nearly filled the book with letters chronicling the highs and lows of pregnancy, her birth story, and moments from her first 16 months of life. Some entries are funny, some are tear-jerkers. Some have bulleted lists of her latest words or doodles of her favorite toys. I love writing to the woman she will become about the sweet miracle she is now. It is my way of trying to capture the wonder of watching her figure out the world, piece by little piece.
Thanks to the suggestion of my brother, I’ve also added a digital component of this practice. I reserved my daughter a Gmail address where I send her short little notes and photos. When she’s older, I’ll give her the password to unlock an inbox full of fun memories from her childhood. This tech-savvy approach is perfect for those who don’t have time to write long handwritten letters. You can send off a quick email message to your child from the waiting room at the doctor’s office or the line at Target.
If you are considering adopting a writing ritual, be sure to consider your time constraints, interests, and goals before getting started. If you choose something that fits into your life and is enjoyable, you will be much more likely to stick with it. As with any habit, it may take some time before writing becomes a natural part of your day-to-day life, but if you’re hoping to improve your writing, connect with yourself and those around you in new ways, capture your stories, or achieve big goals, words can help you get there!