When you’re ready and you have some time to yourself, set a timer for eight minutes. Really, do this step, it’s so important. Then for eight minutes, you write. No stopping, no thinking too hard, no rewriting. Then stop when the eight minutes are up. Of course you can keep going if you would like, but you should never feel like you have to. You can leave a sentence unfinished, a thought hanging, a topic unexplored.
The idea is to make writing about life more manageable. It shouldn’t be overwhelming. It shouldn’t be hard. It shouldn’t be something to do only when we’re old. And it shouldn’t be left to anyone but ourselves. Eight minutes a day, a few times a week, adds up.
Also, if you allow yourself to really try it, to write whatever comes to your head without worrying about what it is, or who might read it, or what it says about you, you’ll start to surprise yourself.
The author Flannery O’ Connor said, “I write because I don’t know what I think until I see what I say.” Writing not only can help us record memories, it can also help us explore ideas, understand issues and work through problems.
Also, when we write about our life, we open ourselves up to others. William Zinsser, an American writer and literary critic, once said, “[Writing] can also be an act of healing for you. If you make an honest transaction with your own humanity and with the humanity of the people who crossed your life, no matter how much pain they caused you or you caused them, readers will connect with your journey.”
You can do three days a week, one day a week, one day a month or maybe none at all. But at the very least, you can think about some of the ideas. Maybe it will spark a conversation or a thought or a memory.
I hope you try it!
— Ann Dee
Many thanks to Ann Dee Ellis, author of "You May already be a Winner" and others.