The Power of Women, Words, and Inspiration!
By Phyllis Smith
Writing to Inspire: Yourself!
We often think of writing as an external form of communication. We write emails to people; we text all day long; we write presentation slides for our organizations; we compose and post social media content. But have you ever considered how private writing practice could be a powerful way to transform and energize yourself? Could writing ever be simply shared between your pen writing words on the page and your own thoughts? Could this private conversation help you in your external communication and the way you make your way in the world? I loved listening to Katie Dyal of The Collective Source on a recent Women Inspiring Women call as she walked us through her own personal journey of writing to inspire.
Katie was passionate about her lifelong commitment to journaling and the healing power of what she refers to as doing a “brain dump.” Katie emphasized that the act of a daily writing practice doesn’t have to be done even just once a day. Getting the thoughts racing through your head out onto a page or jotting down a quick prayer or idea calms the mind and opens your creative channel for deeper work. The participants responded to Katie’s query about the ways we use writing with an extensive variety of options.
To Do: Write, Rest, Digest
The opposite of Fight or Flight is Rest and Digest. A daily writing practice has led me to spend more time in this state for sure. In my career as a project manager, lists drive my day. In my personal life, my mind can get too caught up in my own To Dos. When the contents of my thoughts are exclusively the next thing I’m going to cross off my list, then my creative side—my what-if side—is quiet. My inner voice cannot be heard over the litany of items I need to accomplish each day. When I do sit down to write, many sentences are taken up with the running check-off items I am thinking about. After a few minutes, or sometimes longer, interesting, and surprising content starts appearing.
When the Dust Clears…
Once my pages are done—sometimes I set a timer, or I stop when I feel complete—I move on to the next thing. But here’s the difference: that nagging voice and the feeling of anxiety that I might not get everything done or worse yet do the next thing badly is gone. In its place is a relative feeling of calm and ability. Yes, the list is long, and we are all busy but suddenly there is space and time.
On the Women Inspiring Women call we talked about potential obstacles to implementing this writing practice: perfectionism, finding a quiet place to write, letting go of the desire to be right, and avoiding editing or critiquing to allow the words to freely flow. I find setting aside the time each day by blocking out time on my calendar and setting a reminder helps considerably. Then, when I start to write I hold back on editing or even re-reading. The focus of my time is to get words down on paper and not worry about punctuation or even readability. This work is for my eyes only.
Thank you for your help, Gratitude.
We all have struggles in our lives and it is easy to tell stories in our heads about how difficult life is and can be. We dwell on that irritating encounter in line at the grocery store or the bigger issues of health, elder care or career challenges. One way to counteract these feelings of overwhelm is to do a daily gratitude practice. It’s simple: write a list of what you are grateful for each day. Try for around 5 things. Here is mine from the day I am writing this:
- Warm socks on a cold day
- My horses greeting me in the morning
- K (my partner) is feeling better
- Yoga class tonight
- New opportunities to learn coming up!
My regular gratitude practice causes me to feel calmer and more focused. Sharing my gratitude with others spreads good feelings in my community. The life-changing power of keeping a journal, having a writing practice, or even jotting down ideas, prayers, and random thoughts can help you move out of your internal voice into a powerful and influential external presence.
Your words have the power to change your world
Having an internal writing practice will make your creative side feel listened to and seen, allowing you to tap into that part of you when you go about your daily life. The Women Inspiring Women group really resonated with this approach. We all had examples of how we inspire with the words we use. When we feel grounded, we are able to reach out with words of encouragement to those around us. The writing we have to do as part of our jobs, whether it is marketing content or an email to follow up with a colleague, comes across with more compassion and honesty.
My newfound activity of blogging is my current way of sending my message out to the world. My goal is to both give readers insight into the compelling and thought-provoking content available on the Women Inspiring Women calls but also to help me find my voice in the world and share my own inspiration and wayfinding.
Thank you for coming with me!