by Nancy Casey
When you have a writing practice, your goal is to do some writing. Period. It is likely that benefits will accrue from your efforts, but the connection isn’t always direct. Maybe over time, you will like yourself better or get in touch with your feelings. Maybe your regular writing will improve your spelling. Maybe it will give you a great idea for how to rearrange the furniture.
When you sit down to do your writing, the task is always the same: fill up a page. One page. On some days you might do extra. Maybe your writing will spill onto a second page and then a third one. But maybe it won’t. Your goal is to fill a page and when the page is full, you’ve succeeded.
You don’t have to write fast. Your writing doesn’t have to be neat. You don’t have to write in cursive. The words don’t need to be packed in tight as bricks. As long as the page is full and has some words on it, you’ve done your writing.
To demonstrate that to yourself, let doodling be the focus of your writing today.
When you doodle, you send your pen around the page to make whatever marks you happen to make. Perhaps you will “draw” things that you know how to draw. If you do, don’t draw them with the intent of making them look a certain way. Don’t hesitate or wonder what you ought to do. Just let your pen roam around, making lines and shapes, marks and blobs. As long as that’s happening, you are doing it right.
You can start in one small place on the page, like the middle or a corner, and let your doodle grow outward from there. Or perhaps you would prefer to begin with a few large strokes over the whole page and then fill in the spaces you have made. Maybe you’ll do some combination of both.
Having several colors handy to make some variety can be nice, but it isn’t a requirement.
In the course of your doodling, write a few words. Very few. Ten would be plenty.
Notice how it feels to doodle up a whole page. Usually after about 10 minutes of an activity like doodling, a person’s mind slows down. Maybe your brain starts to doodle, too. That slowing of the mind is the real purpose of your writing practice. It doesn’t seem like much when it is happening, but over time, in a process that nobody really understands, it can create a little island of calmness inside of you. The benefits that come from “writing” really come from the calmness you create by doing the writing. Anything that lands on the page is a bonus.
When you have filled your page with doodling, turn it sideways and upside-down to see which way it looks best. Figure out where the title should go. Write the date on it as well. Here is an example of what a person could write.
Share what you have written! Post it as a comment below. You can type in your work. Or post a picture of it.
Nancy Casey has lived in Latah County for many years and has taught writing classes at the Recovery Center in the past. You can find more of her work here. If you would like her help with a writing project—resumes, letters, stories novels—email email@example.com for more information.