Writing every day has numerous benefits far beyond finally getting that novel of yours out in the open. Whether you’re aiming to improve your vocabulary, keep track of your dreams, or keep a journal of all the goings-on in your world, writing daily can bring about some stellar effects in your life.
A Wake-Up Call for Your Brain
Have you ever hauled yourself to work and then sat there for a couple of hours, waiting for your brain to warm up enough so you could be articulate and productive? That’s a massive waste of time, especially since anything you’d be forced to tackle during that warm-up would be tepid at best.
Instead, consider hitting the ground running by sitting down with a writing assignment while you’re sipping your coffee/tea/wheatgrass smoothie. You can either list a bunch of topics on slips of paper and just pull one from a jar to write about each day, or subscribe to one of the numerous mailing lists that can deliver a subject to your inbox every morning. Figment is great for that, but all you need to do is a quick Google search for “daily writing prompts” and you’ll have no shortage of topics to scrawl about. Getting the gears spinning so early in the morning shakes your brain-meat into good working order, and by the time you roll into the office, you’ll be sharp, focused, and ready to plough your way through anything that lands on your desk.
Stream of Consciousness Purging
Writing a few pages as soon as you wake really is a perfect way to begin your day. You don’t have to write a story, but rather just let all the first thoughts of the morning flood their way onto paper. This could be as mundane as: “Great, another Wednesday morning. I forgot to get cat food so I’m feeding Mr. Fripples a tuna omelet. I have no idea where my socks are. Hopefully Martha will remember to get more coffee for the office kitchen…” etc.
What good does all of this do? It allows you to vent any frustrations/worries that may have percolated in your skull overnight, thus allowing you to begin your day with a clean slate. It’s also a great means of self-exploration and reflection: after you’ve written every day for a few weeks, take an afternoon one weekend to sit down to read what you’ve been scribbling. If you find that the same worries and issues are popping up every day, that’s a strong clue that these need to be addressed so they’ll stop weighing on you. Should you discover that you begin every morning with self-criticism, you can make a conscious effort to be kinder to yourself, and to start your days with positive affirmations, or perhaps something self-loving like yoga, a walk in the park, or a few minutes’ worth of meditation
If you’re looking for a specific subject to write about, consider keeping a dream journal. Keep it by your bedside so you can write notes if you happen to startle into the waking world in the middle of the night, but be sure to take a few minutes to jot down some notes every morning. If you didn’t dream anything, make note of it. If you did, try to write down everything you can recall from the night’s meanderings, even if it’s just vague imagery or colours. Over time, you’ll realise that your ability to remember details from your dreams has improved significantly, and you may start to notice patterns or themes to your dreams.
Vocabulary Maintenance and Expansion
Are you familiar with the saying that falls along the line of “use it or lose it”? That applies to many different aspects of life, and one’s vocabulary is no exception. In an era when texting and tweeting are the main vehicles for communication, many people find that their mental word banks are dwindling in favour of creative ways to condense thoughts into as few words and characters as possible. This can be problematic when you’re sitting in a meeting and can’t remember vital jargon, or if you’re writing an essay and have a word dancing just on the periphery of your memory, but it won’t come through; you’ll likely end up using a term that isn’t completely appropriate, unless you spend time sifting through a thesaurus to find the right word.
One fun way to expand your vocabulary is to subscribe to a Word of the Day email: every morning, you’ll receive a new (and often obscure) word, and you can try to fit that into a conversation or written exchange at some point that day. How fun would it be to toss words like “confrere” and “factotum” into emails to your colleagues and family members?
Evening Contemplation and Relaxation
Most of us have very busy schedules as well as a fair bit of stress on our minds, and it’s not uncommon for these things to weigh on us when we actually have a few moments’ respite from non-stop responsibilities—like when we’re trying to sleep. Consider keeping a notepad or journal beside your bed, and allot 15-20 minutes every night to writing down your thoughts about the day. If there are things that are stressing you out, getting them down on paper to acknowledge them may help to alleviate the anxiety so you can get some rest. Alternatively, you can use that time to think about all the great things that happened to you over the course of the day, so that the last thoughts you have before drifting off are positive, constructive ones.