Writing has changed my life. It is not an easy task: it requires me to be vulnerable, open, and honest and to share my journey in the hopes it might provide help for someone out there going through a similar challenge. Sometimes I write just to have a good laugh about something I am feeling frustrated about. By the time I finish writing about it, the feeling of frustration is gone. Writing is a powerful tool.

I have to admit I got a little paralyzed recently and starting thinking, “Why am I writing?” I could not sit down to write. It was like avoiding going to the gym. Writing is my mental exercise; I work something out each time I write.

What was I avoiding? That was the real question. I went into “monk mode,” taking time to discover where in my body or mind I was avoiding writing. It is never one simple answer, so I prayed on it. I think I started having imposter syndrome—Who am I to write about life lessons or relationships? Then a thought hit me: the judging brain that goes to war with our creative self was really doing a number on me and had me in knots.

I decided to do some freewriting for a few days to get out of this block. What kept coming to me is “Just write. Just write.”

You see, I am a perfectionist, and if something isn’t perfect I throw in the towel. But this goes against everything I now write about. There is no such thing as perfection, and the benefits of writing outweigh my ego, especially if I am suffering with something. Writing quiets the monster—it lessens whatever you are obsessing about—and you can start to have fun with different topics.

I also realized I was not following my normal writing routine. I was not doing my ten-minute meditation and asking for help and guidance, and I was not making my lemon drink and turning on the soothing music I play while writing. Now, as I sit here listening to the quiet with a little music and sipping my water with lemon, I am reminded that writing routines are so important. Then you just write!

Riff about anything. Get it out of your head and on paper. If you cannot think of anything to write about, then write about what you are feeling instead of what you are thinking. Or write provocative questions and have fun making up answers. I have friends who poke fun at me because I write with pencils only. This feels very familiar for me and I can be sloppy or neat. I can erase. I love the smell of pencil lead on paper. I will even use pencils in business meetings. It is my routine, and I have several sharpened pencils on my desk at all times.

I also think reading is good for the writing process. Choose a book, get your highlighter, and pick sentences that stand out to you. This is a great way to find topics you are interested in. I love to write about everything. If you go to my website (www.DeborahDriggs.com), you’ll see I have written blog posts about everything! I have had many experiences in my sixty years, so there is a lot to get out!

For fun today, find a quiet spot, take out some paper, and just riff. If you do not feel better after a twenty-minute writing session, I will be blown away. There are times when I write that I am fully crying or laughing—sometimes both at the same time—but what a great way to move the feelings out of my gut and onto paper.

Writing can be a form of joyous self-expression. Please do not judge what you write or be afraid someone will read it. Most of the time, people are feeling what I am writing about, and I will get all kinds of different responses from those who follow me and read my posts. Write with zero care of what people might think.

I began my journey during COVID, and at that time I had a ton on my mind and couldn’t get it out quickly enough. Now every time I write, I feel my style is evolving from where it started. I guarantee if you read my very first blog, “Hard Truth,” and then read a more recent blog, it is a different writer altogether! I just keep going.

I was asked to write this article in November 2023. I am sitting here on March 17, 2024—with the LA Marathon going on and helicopters circling and people cheering—thinking “I am back!” You see, as I am writing, I couldn’t care less if it is good, if anyone reads it, if I make sense. Who said it has to be good or make sense? Those are just rules! With writing there should be no rules (except my editor will insist on fixing my grammar). The whole writing process is a journey of self-expression.

You are unique. Just write: journal, riff, answer questions, do whatever it takes to just write. Start with thirty minutes every day (morning is best) and just write. Keep a journal of what you are doing, thinking, and feeling. Use it as a map so you can see how far you have come or to recognize a setback. Writing can be a great guide to show you where you are and how you think and process. What a compass!

For years, and to this day, I have used a daily planner because I like to write everything down and know just where my time was spent each year. You cannot make improvements if you do not know. The benefits of writing do not have to revolve around an entire book. I have written chapters in several books and have found that process very rewarding.

It is funny, because many therapists suggest that their patients start writing. I can remember the first time I went to therapy in my twenties, and it was suggested I write things down. I did not understand at the time like I do now the importance of writing everything down.

When I first started writing, it was all about gratitude lists. Then I expanded on the things I was grateful for, and the next thing you know, I had a journal or a blog. For me, there is no better form of self-care than to sit and write. I can express myself any way I want, and there is total freedom in that.

I believe that we all have a book inside of us. How could we not? We are all unique, odd, interesting, quirky, funny, educated, sad, reminiscent, guided, blessed, rare human beings with something to say! So please JUST WRITE.

Deborah Driggs

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