We are newly on this path together. You have said your prayer. You have decided what you want and why you feel you want it. Now it is time to get down to business.
This goes along with the prayer exercise. Only now you must put forth more effort.
Get yourself a notebook and a pen. Any notebook will work. Even loose sheets of paper in a folder, or simply shuffled together will work. You can use a pen, a pencil, a crayon. This is not an exercise to spend too much time focusing on getting the perfect notebook or the perfect pen, although I know many of us will agonize over wanting to get everything exactly the way we think it ought to be. I know many of us will spend hours deciding on the perfect notebook or binder, and…or … the perfect writing instrument. This is a very important process…this is a very important project…we want to have everything associated with this project to show how important we think the project is.
Stop. Honestly. I get that need. I understand it. Some of us will grab any old notebook and whatever pencil we can find lying around and say ‘ready!’ Those of us who feel the need to have the ‘right’ paper, the ‘right’ pen…we are engaging in procrastinating behavior. Stop that. Right now.
Don’t worry about what pen or what notebook. You can have one day, preferably one hour, to figure out what pen and paper you are going to use for this project. Every moment you take to find that one notebook and/or that one pen is a moment you lose where you could be walking farther on your journey.
No stalling permitted.
This course is not easy. It can be. Honestly, it can be. For most people, myself included, it is a very difficult thing to do. You have to be honest with yourself. You have to be dedicated. You have to be firm. If you take shortcuts now, you will only be short-changing yourself later on.
You have your writing instrument. You have your paper. Now, set down two specific times to write per day. For myself, I do it when I wake up and before I go to bed. Find two times, morning and night, or afternoon and evening, or whatever works for you. Try to find a time at the beginning of your day and towards the end of your day.
Set a timer if you need to do so. Sit down at those times to write every day, no matter what, and write.
Can you change the times every day? Yes, you can. If you have a schedule that shifts day by day, by all means, accommodate your schedule. Just make sure you are consistent with your writing. If something comes up, or you’re on vacation, adjust times as needed. All you need to do is be consistent. Write at the beginning of your day and at the end of your day.
What are you writing? Whatever comes to mind. You can journal. You can write stream of consciousness. You can describe in vivid detail every pore of skin on your knee. You can write about your neighbor, your sister, or the cat. You can write one word, over and over, in the allotted time. I once sat writing the word ‘hello’ over and over, for an hour, because I could not for the life of me think of anything else to write. Write whatever comes to you. You do not need to plan what to write. Let it happen naturally when you take up that pen. Don’t force it, but don’t let the opportunity pass you by either. You don’t need to make yourself write about a certain subject, but you shouldn’t just sit there the whole time trying to figure out what to write either. The point is not to ponder, but to actually perform the task.
Having said that, do not worry about the way you write. The grammar police will not be showing up at your house to take you away in handcuffs. Forget about making your handwriting look good, or even being legible. Forget about spelling. Never mind syntax. Ignore grammar. If you write on lined paper, you don’t even need to worry about staying in or on the lines. If you want to, write in circles, in spirals, in little designs. Just write.
How long should you write? This depends upon you.
For some people, twenty minutes twice a day is no hardship. For some, five minutes once a day is a struggle. For some people, five minutes in the morning and fifteen minutes at night work well for them. One friend of mine writes non-stop for one hour in the morning and one hour at night.
I generally tell people to start with five minutes per sitting. After a week or a month, they can increase the time they spend writing. Ten minutes. Fifteen minutes. Twenty minutes. Take all the time you need, but do not let the writing take over your entire life. If you find yourself spending several hours, every day, doing nothing but writing writing writing…pull yourself back a bit. Set firm boundaries. Let yourself go for twenty minutes at a time…and once your timer or whatever goes off, once twenty minutes are done, put down your pencil and walk away, even if you are in the middle of a sentence, in the middle of a thought. Stop right there and walk away.
For most people, I think once they reach their outer limits of writing twice a day, they write for fifteen to twenty minutes per session. This is merely a guideline. I have one friend who writes for five minutes every morning but writes for an entire hour before bed. That works for him. Find what works for you.
Why are we writing? Well, this is a much deeper question. We are writing, twice a day, for two reasons. These reasons may seem contrary to one another at first, but I promise you there is a method to my madness. We write to empty out all the thoughts in our heads that swim around like sharks and minnows every day…and we write to make room, to fill our heads with wonderful new spaces and visions.
What do these two reasons have in common? By ridding your brain of all the initial chatter, you allow yourself to access deeper regions of your Self…you permit access to your Higher Self…to that small still voice many of us have spent so very long stuffing down and choking out to keep silent. Once we remove the chatter, once the Higher Self begins to speak, then we can hear all these wonderful ideas and thoughts that our subconscious has been hiding from us for so long, the things that our Higher Self has wanted to share with us for so long, but we had forbidden it from showing us.
You do not have to read what you have written. You do not even have to keep what you have written. There is no reason for you not to finish your writing session and then rip every single sheet of paper to shreds and flush it all down the toilet. Please have a care for your sewer system though. Not everything flushes well, so please use common sense before flushing. I don’t want to say, hey, go ahead and flush that stuff and then get sued for your toilet getting stopped up and not working properly.
I have a paper shredder myself. I do not shred all my writing, but some of it is so dark, so mean, so angry, I don’t want to hold on to it. I want to write it, get it out, and let it go. I shred the paper and then put the shreds into my composting pile. In this way, my anger or upset feeds the earth while I am grounded and more settled after releasing the emotion onto the page in a healthy way. This, for me, is a win-win scenario.
How long do you have to write twice a day? This question is a bit trickier. You need to do it long enough to make sure you can hear the still small voice inside, but you don’t want to stop the writing process too soon, lest you miss something. Most people with whom I work do not stop writing entirely. Some have chosen to write now only once a day, but most still use the writing process on a daily basis to some extent.
You need to start writing and keep writing for at least the first six months of this project. If you stop writing any sooner than that, you may not only miss some of the work, but the process won’t be as ingrained and as open for you as it should be. One reason we write is to turn off all that chatter to make room for the higher stuff, the subconscious stuff to come through, without us having to think or push or ponder about it. We write so that the advice and the ideas and whatever else already has an outlet to reach us. If we shut that release valve off too soon, we might cut off our flow of information too soon. We might miss out on some incredible insights.
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