For most people, a blank page is intimidating and overwhelming. “How do I begin?” we think as we pause, pens poised, our thoughts jumbled and jammed like a tangled ball of twine.
Our job is to untangle the ball, pull it out slowly. One way to do this is to begin with a short mantra, such as “right now” or “I want” to help us enter the page, wade through the frivolous muck, and get to the bedrock of what we are trying to say.
Following are two writing exercises that, in and of themselves, can take you everywhere. You can begin each day with either of these writing exercises for the next ten years, and each entry will be unique, a reflection of where you are in your life at this very moment.
Open your journal, write the date and where you are at the top, and begin. Now.
Exercise #1: “Right Now”
Beginning with the words, “Right now,” freewrite about yourself right now. Where are you right now? How old are you? Where do you live? How old is your child/children? How do you spend your time? Who are your friends? What is your favorite song? What are you hoping for? What book are you reading? What are your dreams and fears? If you are taken away on a thought or a tangent, go with it. Then, when you think you have nothing else to write, begin again with the words, “Right now…” Do not worry about spelling, punctuation, or grammar.
“You never step in the same river twice.” –Heraclitus
Exercise #2: “I want…”
Beginning with the words, “I want,” write everything that comes into your mind that you want. If you get stuck, begin again with the words, “I want.” Beginning with who and where you are right now, what do you want to happen in your life? Think both short term (I want to finish painting Lucy’s room, I want to wake up every morning at 6:00 and write) and long term (I want to have a career that helps other people, I want to be a wise old woman some day). Think frivolous (I want to get my hair highlighted, I want Sour Patch Kids) and meaningful (I want to get a place where I accept myself for who I am, I want to be at peace with where I am in life).
As you write, be as specific and courageous as possible. Do not let your fears and insecurities step in and block what you want. Don’t listen to that critical, mean voice within that says, “This is not possible for you.” Shine light on all that you are and all that you want.
When you practice naming what you want in life, you begin to sharpen your focus, living with reflection and intention rather than reaction.
“If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking.” –Proverb