I am a maker of to-do lists. I love how tidy it feels to get everything I’m hoping to accomplish out of my head and onto the page.
The other day I sat down with my trusty yellow legal pad to make a list of all the things I needed to get done.
Then, something strange happened. A voice inside my head said, “Hang on.”
It said, “Before the productivity, make a list of what you’re grateful for.”
Now, I am no stranger to the power of gratitude. But if I’m honest, I did not want to make a gratitude list at that moment.
I wanted to start checking checkboxes.
Getting things done.
But I have learned to pay attention when I get an inner urge to write something. I have learned to listen, and do what “she” tells me to do.
At first I felt cranky. This is a time suck. I could be cleaning out the fridge.
And then I felt resigned. Just fill the page, Kell. You’ll be done soon enough.
And then I felt neutral. I mean, whatever. I guess I’m grateful I made time to repot the houseplants.
And then the momentum started to kick in. I definitely feel grateful for my company, and our authors. And for my yard. Oh, and for Grandma’s peonies, which should start blooming next year!
Soon I felt amused. Is it weird how much I love my koi pond? I think it’s weird. I’m weird! I’m grateful to be weird.
And finally, I felt…happy. Oh, I love my godsons so much. I’m excited I get to see them today. I’m so lucky my mom is still alive and well. And my boyfriend is such a sweetie. Oh my nieces! They make my heart sing.
And soon, I was turning the page. The gratitudes just kept coming.
You know what didn’t seem so urgent anymore? Cleaning out the fridge.
I tell you this story because this is what happens when you start writing anything.
Just promise yourself you’ll fill a single page. Even if you don’t feel like it. And wait to see what happens.
Writing not only leads to more writing, it leads to more joy.
So grab that yellow notepad. Yes, I mean right now.
Sit down and promise yourself you’ll fill just one page. Just one little page!
I don’t care what you write. Write anything! Maybe it’s a poem. Maybe it’s a memory. Maybe it’s a gratitude list. Just be writing. (If you want my list of writing prompts, you can find it here.)
Oh, and feel free to be cranky. And resigned. And neutral. It’s all part of the process.
But keep going.
Because sooner than you’d think, you’ll notice the first rays of joy peeking over the horizon.
For writers like us, writing is a direct path to happiness. It just is.
Maybe it’s weird. But it works. Just one page can turn your whole day around.
Try it and see. And if it works for you the way it works for me, I’d love to hear about it! Leave me a comment below.
Kelly Notaras is the founder of kn literary arts and the author of THE BOOK YOU WERE BORN TO WRITE: Everything You Need to (Finally) Get Your Wisdom Onto the Page and Into the World, published by Hay House. An editor for 20 years, she’s worked at HarperCollins, Penguin, Hyperion and Sounds True. She speaks regularly at the Hay House Writer’s Workshops and offers consultation by appointment. Find out more about how she can help you with your book.