5 Ways Writing can Save Your Life.

5 ways writing can save your life - andrea balt

In February, 2014 , a group of 200+ stuck and busy creators started a 30-day writing challenge, in which we wanted to see what would happen if we made of writing one of our top priorities every day, instead of just an option you leave for when everything quiets down and you have a minute. We wanted to test if honoring our passion and starting our day with the early use of our creative superpowers would affect the following:

– Our level of satisfaction with life (Does it make us come alive and feel more optimistic about our lives?)

– Our mood and disposition through the rest of the day (Does it improve our overall mood and help us handle the rest of our tasks with less complaints?)

– Our well-being, if it makes us feel better physically. (Do the mental and emotional benefits of honoring our passion also extend to the body?)

– Our productivity (Does it increase? Do we experience less distractions — less need for mind-less mental snacks — if we nourish our creativity first thing in the morning?)

– Our curiosity, perspective, imagination and critical thinking. (Does this practice open new doors in our mind? Does our mind expand in ways we couldn’t foresee or believe before? 

Although some of these aspects are easier to notice than others, after 30 days of interaction, sharing, inspiration and working hard to fit this time into an already busy schedule, most of us can confirm that putting our passion first is one of the most healing and empowering favors we’ve done to ourselves. And one we’d like to keep extending beyond these 30 days.

It has been confirmed by countless studies — but even more so, by our own hearts — that one of the chief causes of dissatisfaction with life is a sense of powerlessness and misalignment with your purpose, of being scripted out of your own life-movie, of feeling like you are a secondary character in someone else’s book, rather than the brilliant author of your destiny.

But what if you had the key to your own prison cell? And what if all you really needed to break yourself free is to understand that only you have the power to do so? To me, there is no greater wonder than the fact that all you need to (re)create your life is already inside you and that the more you discover and explore yourself, the more your world and field of action expand.

The most proactive truth about life is not that “it goes on,” but that as it goes on, we can go up.

The fact that each one of us is a unique irreplaceable creature that has never happened before and will never happen again, and we each possess, in our blueprint the map and supernatural ability to figure ourselves out and make ourselves thrive is nothing short of astonishing. Greatest Wonder #2 would be that in doing that, we awaken others through the most potent and contagious virus ever discovered: Inspiration.

So here is how writing — one of the most powerful tools for creativity — can help you be the key and door to you, and WHY YOU SHOULD WRITE YOURSELF ALIVE EVERY DAMN DAY:

1. Self-Discovery. You are a multi-dimensional creature. Writing can provide a dimension you can’t experience through any other medium since it is the most perceivable, fast, clear and efficient way to switch from subject / the observer (I) to object / the observed (me), without interrupting the ongoing conversation with oneself. In writing and consequently reading yourself, you often discover aspects of your character, personality and even trauma or hidden memories you didn’t know you had.

2. Reflection. It serves as a mirror and a BS-proof shield. It points out your strengths and weaknesses and helps you become more aware of your incoherence and your brilliancy. It is not an exact mirror because there’s no such thing as exact when it comes to human nature and the issues of the heart. But it is pretty accurate in showing you both, your highs and lows, truths and lies. Transparency with self is a humbling and yet empowering experience.

3. Meditation. It helps you detox your mind and cleanse your spirit. It holds space so you can let go of what no longer works for you, release your demons, accumulated heartache, disappointments and loss. It helps you dig through all your chatter, so you can finally reach the truth that often hides at the bottom, in your rawest and most tender territory.

4. Imagination. It reactivates your empty or worn-out imagination and helps you create a new script for your story. There is a certain freedom you allow yourself on paper (or screen) that you can’t take in the “real” world. Mostly, the freedom of making mistakes. This freedom — characteristic of our childish soul —  is taken away from us as we grow by Dream Thieves disguised as seriousness, but writing gives it back. It allows our imagination to be crazy enough to dream up a new reality and not afraid to mess it up because see, it’s “just writing…” Smart stardust mind.

5. Action. When you write, you do. You start giving body to your thoughts and imagination, even if this body begins with words. In writing about life, you start creating it. Writing will leave footsteps that your mind will later follow, leading to experiences, habits, lifestyles and finally, a lifetime.

Nothing is real to us unless we acknowledge it first. And since we, homo creative sapiens are also easily distracted by all the neon lights flashed in our face, writing keeps us focused and helps us turn our loose thoughts, ideas, dreams and plans into action — if only, by letting us take the first step — that of expressing them. 

So the question is not why write, but how can you not write?

Although, aside from the life-savers writing can throw us and its proven benefits in our messy and beautiful human experience, the truth is, most of us who are in a complicated relationship with writing don’t do it for any of the above reasons. We certainly don’t stop to think and consider the why before “sitting down at a typewriter and bleeding.” We do it because writing won’t let us be unless we let it happen to us.

We write simply because we can't help it

As Benjamin Disraeli put it, “Life is too short to be little.”

So why not let it grow a thousand times its regular size through your words, and why not write yourself alive, and if not every damn day, then when, and if not you, who?

write because it's the end of the world

 

 

Bonus – 10 essential BOOKS ABOUT WRITING that will help you master your craft.

*Note: Some of these titles are more specifically about Fiction or Poetry, but the knowledge, training and insight they contain applies to all genres. I wholeheartedly recommend that if you are serious about writing and you haven’t had any formal training, you devour and enjoy at least 3 titles on this list. You’ll thank me later.

Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity — Ray Bradbury

On Becoming a Novelist — John Gardner

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft — Stephen King

The Art of Fiction — David Lodge

How Fiction Works — James Wood

The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers — John Gardner

The Art of the Novel — Milan Kundera

In the Palm of Your Hand: The Poet’s Portable Workshop — Steve Kowit

Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within — Natalie Goldberg

Bird by Bird: Some instructions in writing and life — Anne Lamott

 

 

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: OUR NEXT FREE 30-DAY CHALLENGE IS HAPPENING ON AUGUST 1-30, 2014. GET YOUR FINGERS READY TO BLEED. SIGN UP HERE FOR NEWS & UPDATES AND JOIN OUR FACEBOOK GROUP (IF YOU HAVEN’T).

LOOKING FORWARDING TO SHARING THESE MAGICAL 30 DAYS OF WRITING WITH YOU.

P.S. I’d love to know how writing saves YOUR life. 

If you participated in our 30 Days of Writing or are currently doing or planning to do the challenge, please let me know in the comments how it has impacted you or what convinced you to do it. 

 

For daily writing inspiration, follow my Write Yourself Alive feed

on Facebook & Instagram.

#writeyourselfalive #writeeverydamnday #justwrite

 



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Comments

  1. The #30daysof writing challenge inspired me to make the time and just do it. Without judgement, let the words flow. I will read, edit and spell check at a later date. It also connected me with similar writers who are talented, supportive and some yummy human beings to share with. And it was fun!!!

    • Andrea Balt says:

      It was such a pleasure to connect with you these 30 days, Melody! Loved your energy. And yes, that was the whole point, write without judgement… should have used this as an h-tag too… #writewithoutjudgement Too long? 🙂

  2. Thank you so much for this challenge and opportunity. I wrote every morning, first thing, even though one day it was only for seven minutes and another it was three. But they were two of the most powerful days of the 30 days, and it was the three minute day that really sunk in the message that my creativity did come first. I am 58 years old, and I have never given myself that message or allowed myself to receive it. I did that day.

    Writing has always been a struggle. It was an all or nothing venture. Either I didn’t write or when I did, kids were neglected (hungry? Put the hotdog in the microwave!) and then there were those tumultuous on again/off again love affairs with procrastination.

    In these past 30 days, I have started each day affirming the importance of my writing, telling myself that, no, I wasn’t going to get to it when I had time. I was going to write now. I was very clear that that was the purpose of this event for me. Not writing one to three hours a day, not achieving a certain goal, just telling myself my writing came first, my creativity came first thing in the morning, and telling myself that with action.

    Interestingly, just the act of doing that made me more aware of writing opportunities throughout the day and I found myself taking them.

    One morning, at work, I was facing the door with med bag flung over my shoulder getting ready to deliver the morning meds to my clients. I stopped. I could not do it. It was already 7:00 A.M. the beginning of med time, and I had not been able to write earlier, and these meds needed to go out, but I had something important to tell me.

    I put the med bag down. I walked to the couch, opened my laptop and started to write. It was 7:01 A.M. I wrote until I looked at the time again. It was 7:04. I closed the laptop, picked up the med bag and headed out the door.

    It was the most empowering moment ever. Because I had training later that day, I had to go straight to the training before my shift even ended, and then straight back to work after it had already started that evening until the following morning. I was so tired, I could not write at night. That day my entire writing session was those three minutes.

    And yet, those three minutes totally turned my world around. I got it.

    Subsequent days now my writing is becoming more fluid, and my productivity is going up. If I can write, and write well in three minutes, then I can write in 15 minutes, I can write in 30 minutes. No more excuses. No more do I tell myself I don’t have “enough time”. No longer do I look for conditions to be just right, nor do I fear that I will suffer some kind of injury if my creative flow is interrupted.

    I can write anywhere and any time.

    Yes, I prefer long writing sessions, but I no longer wait for one to appear to give me permission. I have the same 24 hours, the same low paycheck, the same stressors in my life, the same demands on my time and energy. Nothing has changed.

    Except me.

    And because of that, everything has changed. And this past month has been the most productive writing month of my writing life journey. I am making progress, real discernible progress, on a manuscript that I have worked on for years.

    With all my heart, I thank you.

    ~Demian

    • Andrea Balt says:

      Wow…Demian…I got goosebumps reading through your story. Thank you SO MUCH for sharing it. It made my day. I love that you decided to do what you could even if not the suggested hour. I always say, do what you can with what you have, no excuses. But when I dig deeper, it’s surprising to discover that at the end of most of our unfulfilled dreams are just that, excuses. Smart, multi-layered and often very convincing excuses.

      I’m in awe of your commitment and I think this is the perfect example that there really is nothing that can stand in one’s way. Because you’re right – things won’t ever be right, they won’t ever change on their own – our reality can only be changed “through” us.

      It’s very empowering to me, and I’m still discovering and learning what it truly means to be a creator / artist of your own life. And putting our passion first has got to be one of the most important, hardest lessons. Like you explained, it’s not about how much or how well you do it, it’s about the simple choice of DOING it – this alone opens new doors and possibilities – because you first made the decision and took the first step. It puts you back in charge.

      Thanks again for sharing such a wonderful example. Much love to you on your writing journey. Don’t stop.

  3. i wasn’t going to get to it when I had time. I was going to write now. I was very clear that that was the purpose of this event for me.
    thank you

  4. loved the #30daychallenge. it is helping me focus again on the ‘product’/’production’/’factory’ – just making the art (process); just writing. Thank You so much for putting the challenge out, through the void | through the matrix! I am so grateful for having received the message- the fire;). awesome

  5. what a perfect summation of the #30daychallenge. the experience, for me, encapsulated so, so much. it was a reminder, an eye-opener, a refresher, a disappointment, a small success, a quiet revelation, a bombshell of reality. i am so grateful for those who participated, shared, and gave feedback. people became brave through each others’ honesty. what a brilliant gift you gave us! writing everydamnday was one thing; your commitment, passion, consistency, writing, coaching, cheering, inspiring, interacting, READING, and dedication to see this project to the end (or the beginning as it were) was incredible. thank you. at the risk of coming across as recherché, i think you may have saved a few lives yourself.

    • Andrea Balt says:

      Carly – thanks for such a sweet, wonderful feedback. Savoring every word.

      The group warmth, feedback and constant inspiration were overwhelming and your / their support has been equally inspiring and helpful to me. I never expected it to escalate to this proportion, in fact, it all started out of a deep need to FOCUS and RE-PRIORITIZE, after realizing that I let distractions (worries, needs, to-dos, secondary work) get the best of my day. But it’s always surprising to see how most of our needs and struggles are common struggles, and just the act of speaking up and sharing can help us break through so many self-imposed limitations.

      Best way to save lives – by becoming alive yourself. 🙂

      Thanks for being there. xo

  6. j.g. lewis says:

    If the first meal of the day is the most important, shouldn’t the first thought be as well?
    In this 30-day writing challenge, we explored the concept and more so, explored ourselves. First thing in the morning, as soon as you woke, you wrote 1 – 3 hours. Writing is always a priority, but for these 30 days it was ‘the’ priority.
    It was contrary to my regular nocturnal schedule, but it was worth it. It has transformed my process.
    #30daysofwriting It takes commitment, and then it takes control.

    #writeeverydamnday

    • Andrea Balt says:

      J.G. – Thank you with all my heart for being there with a (virtual) pen & paper #everydamnday. Your daily haikus, poems and musings helped me stay on track. It’s true – our first thought / meal / way we start our day, sets the tone for the whole day. I’m glad you were able to explore the morning side. Now you can do both, morning and night. 🙂 Opposites attract.

      Big hug attached. #writeeverydamnday #noexcuses

      • j.g. lewis says:

        Okay Ms. Andréa Balt, It’s 5:43 a.m. and I am up writing! I’ve done this a few times since the 30-day experiment ended, but not like this. I woke a little over an hour ago, totally unplanned, and totally inspired . . . and the first thing I did was flip open the computer and let the thoughts flow onto the screen. Yes, the test is over, but the test animal still reacts to change (ring the bell and I’ll salivate). There is value in getting up and doing what you must do, what you love to do, and what you keep wanting to do. So I do it. You know this is counter to my routine (and circadian rhythm), but those 30-days, not quite 30 days ago, have been invaluable. Today, of all days, I had nothing planned; I could have gone to a later yoga class, and I could have slept till noon, but instead I woke. I’m inspired. What does that say?

        • Andrea Balt says:

          Trying to become an early riser after a tumultuous past couple months…Thanks for the inspiration. Amen to this — “there is value in getting up and doing what you must do, what you love to do, and what you keep wanting to do.”

  7. I met the most extraordinary soulful people in the group (including you.) The commitment to the 30 day and the place to share helped me in ways I am still processing. Visible results are a new blog, a poem published, new interesting friends, new pieces written that are unearthing some of my deepest realizations, I opted to take a couple of short writing workshops which have instructed & challenged me. Mainly, I am facing the challenges that by allowing my desire to write to be a priority has strengthened and deepened my relationship with myself. I have battled with perfectionism and this commitment challenge has shown me there is no room in my life for this anymore. Connecting with you and all that you offer feels like kismet. Am a little breathless with all that has happened. And grateful for your bravery in stepping out with this to begin with.

    • Andrea Balt says:

      Lisa — your comment makes me so happy. I read it twice just to keep it all in.

      It’s so incredibly rewarding to see how far our creative, heartfelt decisions can take us and how deeply they can touch the lives of others without even planning it. I too have battled with perfectionism my whole life. And everything changed when I decided to face it and accept my imperfection. My life expanded overnight and just like you, I experienced abundance.

      I applaud your decision to get extra training. It’s something I recommend to everyone bit by the writing virus. It helps widen one’s perspective. And I’m so glad to hear about your accomplishments in this short time.

      Our next 30-day writing challenge is coming up in July. Can’t wait to see what it will bring.

      LOVE

  8. Nice Andrea Balt. All your five points are valid. From all of then imagination comes at first, because with it no one can proceed writing

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