Good writers have a few things in common: patience, determination, a sense of masochism. Beyond character traits, folks who write well practice. A lot. Just like musicians or baseball players, writers have to practice writing to keep their skills sharp and stay nimble. Anne Lamott wasn’t born a brilliant writer. She practices. For every published word, dozens go unpublished. However, those unknown words are crucial to the process.
One of the best ways to bank that all-important practice time is by journaling. Your journal is yours. You can use it to pen through your deepest emotions and life goals, sure. But, you also can use it to reflect on that parent-teacher conference or last Sunday’s brunch with that friend you hope becomes more than just a friend. You can write about your crazy boss or your neighbor’s yappy dog. You can write about anything you choose.
In addition to being good for you, journaling forces you to order your thoughts and put those thoughts down on paper. Every time you do that, you are reinforcing the connection between your thoughts and your hands. The strength of that connection is what writers rely on when we need to pump out something brilliant, especially under pressure. Strengthening that connection will make writing that long email or summary for your colleague feel like less of a chore.
Journaling for just five minutes before you try to write that long email or summary will make it easier. The same as musicians and baseball players, writers, need to warm up before digging in. All you need is a pen you like to write with and some paper. You can keep what you wrote, or you can crumple it up and toss it out. If you don’t know what to write about, write about what is directly in front of you. Literally. Write about how the pen feels in your hand. Write about how the paper smells. Or, check out some writing prompts. It doesn’t matter what you write about; it just matters that you write.