I spend a lot of my time writing. It is satisfying because it helps me clarify my ideas on a given topic, and sometimes it forces me think more clearly. But in terms of my sense of satisfaction and contentment, not all writing is equal.
We are all used to writing. We prepare lists, write emails, prepare reports… Writing this way is functional, to fulfil a specific purpose and, subject as we are to external pressures, often done to order, and to a deadline.
There is another sort of writing. Call it writing for pleasure, spontaneous writing or capturing a stream of consciousness. From this perspective writing is an act of the imagination and – and here’s the big bonus – it unlocks our ideas and creativity.
I don’t just mean creativity in the literary sense. When you write it helps clear a cluttered mind, germinate ideas, process our emotions, daydream, and imagine how things might be. When we allow the writing to guide our thoughts – rather than the other way round – it facilitates conceptual thinking, which is where new and often unexpected ideas come from.
Not so many people these days keep a diary or write a journal, and it’s not necessary to record your thoughts daily to benefit from this style of writing, but in my view it does require the basic discipline of regularity. It doesn’t have to be the same time every day (though many writers insist that it does), ‘regular’ can mean recurrent opportunities. The commute, for example, or coffee breaks.
Try it, you’ll see. To start with never mind what you write, the important thing is creating the space to do it, and don’t bother with doing anything worthwhile, smart or meaningful, just write. Writing unlocks the imagination, so just get on with it.
By the way, don’t wait for inspiration to strike. Writing creates inspiration, not the other way round. So write today, and every day.