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Language and Writing Center: The Craft of Writing- Developing a Daily Writing Practice

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Introduction

On this page, you'll find articles and guides related to developing a daily writing practice. The links in each section offer quick and easy explanations. They are written by professional writers and freelancers of varying levels, who have made their knowledge available to others in their craft.

Uh Oh!- Tips to Combatting Writers Block

Writers Block happens to the best of us. Believe it or not, it's not because people are simply uncreative. The stressors of everyday living, the amount of things that demand our attention on a daily basis, can already compound anxieties and insecurities about our own writing. Yet writers block doesn't have to get you down. There are ways of utilizing brainstorming techniques, writing exercises, and organizational methods that get the brain going on writing that short assignment, research paper, or final paper.

Select Spiritual Writings (available through the Learning Commons)

Developing A Writing Practice in Five Easy Steps

  1. Identify the time of day when you feel most inspired or productive: Are you a morning writer? A night writer? An afternoon writer? Think about what time of day you're the most alert and able to devote time for writing. Keep in mind it is possible to write multiple times of day for different things. You can have a morning journaling practice and then be an evening academic writer. All is possible! 
  2. Identify a space where you can work quietly (or relatively undisturbed):  Some people work best in crowded coffee shops. Others work best in quiet rooms; like library study rooms, home offices, or bedrooms. Wherever you work, feel free to set the scene. Do you work best with music, silence? Are there particular objects, scents, lighting that inspire creativity? Think about what setting, sounds, and objects would help you feel most productive. 
  3. Ground yourself: Before beginning, sit in your chair, close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths. By inviting breath into your writing, you are doing the necessary work of grounding yourself. As mind and body become one, the sacred purpose of what you need to write gains greater clarity. Breathing is a great way to sublimate the anxiety produced by deadlines, imposter syndrome, and so many other things that become stumbling blocks to actually doing the work of writing. 
  4. Set a reasonable goal for how many words you want to write: Experts say 500 words a day is doable. Anything more is harder to sustain consistently. 
  5. Begin and repeat daily: The key to developing a writing habit is identifying the factors that will lead to success and being consistent.

A Guide to Spiritual Writing

Writing can also be an immensely spiritual practice. Adherents of mystic and ascetic traditions such as Thomas Merton, Meister Echkart, Ibn Arabi, The Baal Shem Tov, Osho, Rabbi Shalman Schectcher-Shalomi, and many others incorporated writing into their devotional practices. The world continues to benefit from their published spiritual insights.  

Taking time to engage writing as a spiritual practice can enhance your analytic writing abilities. Sometimes it's important to maintain the separation between the spiritual writing that will feed your soul and the analytic writing and research you do for coursework. 

Starting a spiritual writing practice might seem daunting, but there are simple ways of incorporating writing into your spiritual life: 

  • Writing after prayer, meditation, or a contemplative practice: A daily practice of journaling after a contemplative practice is a great way to ground and center yourself before doing the very hard work of academic writing. If you're a morning person, taking the time to engage a contemplative practice and then journal is a great way to engender a spiritual writing practice before doing homework. Do you find yourself getting stressed at a particular time of the day? Sometimes it's great to pause, take some deep calming breaths, briefly sit with and journal through what you are feeling? If you're a night person, journaling after prayer or meditating is a great way to ground yourself before sleeping and file away the day. 
  • Writing while studying sacred texts: A daily practice of recording your thoughts during or after you read a text that is relevant to your tradition is a great way to spiritually write. Are you working through a particular passage of the Torah, New Testament, Qur'an, Upanishads, etc over a particular period of time? After reading your daily portion, take a few moments to reflect on how you feel and write it down. What came to mind as you were reading? Did it bring anything up for you emotionally? How did your reading enhance or inspire the ways you think about effecting change in the world? 
  • Writing after a congregational service: Writing after attending a congregational service is another way to practice spiritual writing? What were you carrying into your community of worship before the service started? What was on your mind? How did the day's service uplift, inspire, challenge, provoke, etc? Take some time to reflect on how the congregational service made you feel. 

Books on Writing as a Spiritual Practice

Fun Reads to Improve Your Writing