“The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind,” said Albert Einstein. Quietude is a sanctuary where most writers thrive. It is a much-needed respite from the ‘noise’ that swirls in our minds relentlessly. After the quiet, thoughts flow freely and feelings are spoken on the pages.
Writing is a cathartic release for most of us. It is a safe place where we can explore who we are without inhibitions. Many people struggle to write for fear of judgment and their ideas being dashed. Even so, one cannot argue with the benefits of writing your thoughts. Writing teaches us about self-preservation, accepting criticisms, understanding that perfectionism is unrealistic and that just as in writing there is always room to edit the negative in our lives. The journey of writing helps us take a detour from the busyness that is our life. There is never a right time to start writing and feel better. Here are three simple ways you can begin writing.
1. Start a Journal.
“Writing in a journal each day allows you to direct your focus to what you accomplished, what you’re grateful for, and what you’re committed to doing better tomorrow. Thus, you more deeply enjoy your journey each day.” — Hal Elrod
I first began writing a journal or diary as it was called then when I was nine-years-old. I remember the time I bought my first diary. It was a crowded day at my primary school bookshop, and I had gone to buy a textbook that I needed. As I was leaving, amongst the sea of sweaty and excited children, a pink floral book with a lock caught my eye. I must have it, I thought! I did not have enough money on me that day, so I returned after saving up enough to buy it. I took the pretty floral book home and sat at my desk (that had legs shaped like coloured pencils). It was the perfect enclave in our modest home to start writing. That day, I wrote what happened in school. Soon, the scented pages were filled with the heartfelt sharing of a nine-year-old. Though the lock was purely decorative, it somehow made the experience more elusive. Each time I wrote in the diary, I felt a release, that as a child, I could not explain. I did not realise how writing in the journal was helping me. Some days, I would read what I previously wrote and laugh at what I thought were terrible days. Little did I know that the pretty floral book would change my life. It ignited my passion for writing. It started accidentally and continues purposefully. I still write in my journal every day. A journal is a beautiful way to take up writing and reach into the depths of who we are and rightfully want to be.
Keeping a journal can seem like a lot of work. What do I write in it every day? I like to begin with how my day started and end with something that I am grateful for. If something exciting or eventful happened that day, write it in as well. I started writing gratitude notes as I grew older, I find that to be very useful. Purchase a journal that you would love looking at. Just as beautiful clothes can motivate us to get dressed, pretty stationery can get us writing.
Here’s a link to help you get started
2. Read, Read, Read
“Well, you know what grown-ups are,’ said Dinah. ‘They don’t think the same way as we do. I expect when we grow up, we shall think like them – but let’s hope we remember what it was like to think in the way children do and understand the boys and the girls that are growing up when we’re men and women.” ― Enid Blyton, The Island of Adventure
As a child, my favourite day of the week was Friday. It marked the weekly trip my friends and I made to the library. Walking into the air-conditioned goodness of books and words made me feel like I was floating in the air. The rows of books represented endless adventures we could seek. We would split in different directions in search of our favourite books. Hours went by until it was time to go home. Once home, I would start on the books that we borrowed. Enid Blyton was the author of choice for me. I enjoyed how her words created a surreal world for children. I would act out scenes from her books with my soft toys. Her stories held steadfastly in my mind. I wanted to be a part of the Enchanted Woods.
There is nothing quite like losing yourself in a story. The wave of sadness that hits you as you turn the last page or the way the story lingers for a day or two in the recesses of your mind. That is the power of words and stories. It is not fleeting nor pretentious. While writing ignites the creative thinker, reading revives the soul. Reading voraciously allows a writer to be inspired and perhaps emulate the writing of their favourite author. With time, every writer finds their path through trial and error, but it is harder to do so if you don’t have an Enid Blyton to rouse your mind.
A great way to start writing is to actually start to read. It is easier said than done if it is not already an interest. A friend once said “I love reading, but after ten minutes, I reach for the phone. Before I know it, I have passed an hour scrolling through the socials.” I told her “You don’t love reading when the lure of technology surpasses the yellowed pages of a book.” Reading is a habit that needs to settle into a routine.
Start by reading at night, unwind after a long day by diving into a book. Begin with shorter and simpler books that catch your interest. Set aside 30 minutes before bed and slowly increase your reading time. Soon enough, the hours won’t be enough!
Here’s a book recommendation to help you get started;
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
What we thought: It was a page-turning thriller. It was impossible to put it down. It was indeed a book that makes you want to binge-read. It is akin to watching a thriller on television, except you are reading it. I enjoyed it and finished the book in three days.
National Library (Singapore) link to the book: https://www.nlb.gov.sg/biblio/203831464
3. Write without Care
Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.”
There is no journey to unfold if there is no beginning. Every writing quest starts with putting pen to paper. I used to write long stories as a child. I did not think about the workings of writing, it was a form of expression for me. It was fascinating how I could string sentences together that formed the backbone of a story. The words were for nobody’s eyes but mine. What you write today could be a babble of words you rush to put out, but so what? Who does that really matter to? What do I write about, you ask? Anything really, think of something that you are passionate about. It could be fan fiction, a blog piece about your travels, career woes, parental advice, the lack of social life, and so much more. Each day, set aside 10 minutes to write something funny, angry or inspirational. It is an awakening of your creative senses. As you write, increase your time and word count as you deem fit. Before the year ends, you will have an anthology of stories you can be proud of.
Here’s a link to help you get started