I have a real treat for you today on the blog! One of my favorite writers, client and friend, Sara Barry, is joining us today to help you make writing a priority in your life. Even if you don’t consider yourself a writer, writing is an amazing form of self care and can help you preserve your family’s memories. Sara is hosting a FREE 3 day online writing class beginning September 16th. You can sign up here. I’ll be there, please join me!
You feel like you can’t add one more thing to your day, but you need something for you.
1. Write to remember.
I have a picture of my daughter smiling on the first day of preschool, but it doesn’t tell me this:
She slid her hand, so little, so soft, into mine as we entered the room. Uncertain at first, and then insistent, she tugged me as she saw where she wanted to go.
That night, she sat in her hot pink Adirondack chair and her words tripped over one another, her voice dotted with exclamation points, as she told her grandparents about her day in words I could make out but that I knew would stymie them.
Writing helps you hold on to the ordinary everyday moments—the ones you think you’ll never forget, but probably will.
Writing prompt: Start a file called “I want to remember,” and add a memory or story to it at least once a week.
2. Write to use your brain or creative side.
Do you ever feel like every thought you have is interrupted by Mom, mom! Or most of your day is caught up in mundane tasks or the 87th reading of the same book. Are you tired to think or be creative?
Doing something creative, giving yourself time to finish and explore those thoughts, can bring it’s own energy.
Write even if you’re not quite sure what you are writing about. You may start writing about the oatmeal you had for breakfast and realize you’re writing about disappointment. You may describe the dying tree across the street and not know why you are so focused on it.
Just write it.
Don’t worry about form or grammar or getting it right. Just write to think and play with words and images. Write and see where it takes you.
Writing prompt: Start with what’s right in front of you. Begin with I’m looking at . . .
3. Write for yourself.
Use a journal to capture dreams, frustrations, questions, and desires. Write them down to keep them—or to help let them go.
Describe your fears or jealousy in a journal.
Share your grief in a long note to a friend.
Find three bright points your day, the ones that almost got lost in the chaos of bedtime.
Try reading through your journals (or notebooks or files) sometime. You’ll find things you forgot, things you’re still working through, possibly patterns that lead to change.
As life changes—as you change—find yourself in your words.
Writing prompt: Who are you? Think about the many different facets of yourself. Begin another list with “I am . . .”
So you want to write, but when?
After I had kids, I wrote sporadically for three years.
A little journaling at night.
The occasional writing prompt while my daughter slept in the stroller.
Freewriting after an early morning feeding as the baby snuggled back to sleep and I sat bleary eyed but wide awake.
I wanted more, so after the infant years, I took an online writing course. I wrote late at night. I wrote when my husband was with the kids. I never quite had enough time, but deadlines pushed me to find whatever time I could—and use it well.
Try giving yourself a specific goal—say to write three times a week for 20 minutes. Then use any or all of these ideas to make that time for yourself.
1. Get up early.
Go ahead: Tell me your kids get up too early as it is. That you are exhausted. That if you got up, surely they’d start whining for Cheerios before you got a sentence out.
I chafed at this suggestion for five years.
Early mornings are new to me, but I love writing when I’m fresh. I love too the energy I get from giving myself this gift of time before my kids are up.
If you can get yourself up, it’s a powerful time of day to focus.
2. Pick a pocket of time.
Nap time. Lunch break at work. An extra TV show you let your kids watch. Forget about the dishes and the to do list you copied over from yesterday.
Claim that time for yourself. Put it in your planner, be ready, and write.
3. Use small chunks of time.
Sitting in a waiting room, hanging out in the car while your child naps, noticing that your kids seem happy playing by themselves for a minute—use these unexpected bits of time. Jot down an image that’s been in your head. Make a list of ideas. Respond to a prompt. (See the suggestions above, or try these.)
4. Get creative with childcare.
Bring your laptop to playspaces. Use childcare at the gym to give your body a workout, and then work your brain and write for 20 minutes. Trade an hour with a friend—use yours to write.
5. Get offline.
We all know Facebook is a big time suck. I didn’t realize how much until I took a break from it. Next time you start to check it, write a sentence—describe the weather, the light, your messy car, or one bright point in your day.
Mix and match these ideas—or try some of Megan’s and remember that something that didn’t work today might work another day.
Start small. I started with however long my baby slept in the morning. Some days I got half an hour, some days five minutes.
Keep your expectations low. Honor that you are writing.
Sara Barry is a writer and coach who helps people develop a writing practice to tell their stories, capture their memories, explore their ideas, and nourish themselves. She offers individualized coaching on online and in-person workshops and retreats.
If you’re ready to start writing, join her for the free mini-course Write What You Love, starting September 16.