Benefits of Daily Writing

I’m about four months into writing here daily and I have recently noticed something that I can only attribute to this exercise. My mind feels uncluttered.

Allow me to explain. Sitting down every day at my keyboard to put 500 words on the screen requires me to have something to write about. The first month or so was pretty easy as there were lots of things floating around my mind to grab and pin to the screen. Some topics inspired others and even started a few series. Now I find myself often wondering what to write about. Some would say this is writer’s block setting in, but I’m not so sure. It might just be good mental hygiene.

When I’m ready to write, I think about things that have happened to me recently; things I have read; conversations I have been in. I look around inside my head to find something I can address here. Some things that are meaningful to me are outside the scope of this blog and end up on paper in my journal instead.

Ah, there, I said it, the j-word. I had not thought of what I have been doing on these virtual pages as journaling until the past few days, but in many ways, that seems to be what it is. This blog is full of my thoughts, captured in zeroes and ones on some server.

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”

Flannery O’Connor

I can identify with this sentiment. For me it isn’t reading what I say—when I read over my posts, I focus on trying to improve my writing—but forcing it onto a page that gives clarity to my thoughts. I am able to grab a thought flitting between my synapses like some shadowy creature. I drag it out to the light of day and it either dissolves in the light or takes concrete form in a sentence.

By doing this day after day, there aren’t so many flitting about unexamined. There are still some flitting about that I seek to destroy by light, not clarify. Theologically, we usually call those temptations.

The best image I can come up with for this feeling is when your desk has disappeared underneath a few inches of scattered books and papers and you take the time to really clean it. Not just neaten up the piles, but to go through, file some things, finish others, and trash the rest.

I don’t think this has resulted in any superpowers (alas), but it has cut down on the static between my ears. There aren’t unattended half-formed ideas running around as often while I’m trying to work on something else. I would like to think that this daily writing is an aid to accomplishing deep work during the rest of my day, though I’m not sure I’m there yet. Far too many days, this blog feels like the only deep work I’ve done.

But hopefully, maybe, now that I am getting to a point where the mental desk is cleared and the filing cabinets and bookshelves are in better order, I am prepared to engage more easily in the creative, reflective work I enjoy.

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