Before law school, I used to love writing — simply for the joy of it, as a means of self-expression. I started journaling when I was in elementary school and the journal was the doorway to my creativity. Not only did I write about the latest school gossip, the boy I had a crush on or all the normal teenage angst, I also wrote poetry, short stories, and fiction.
Then I started law school and I stopped writing anything that wasn’t related to the law. My journal sat on the bookcase, empty for years. I also stopped reading for pleasure.
It wasn’t that I didn’t want to write or read for pleasure but rather it felt as though the ability to take delight in these activities had been zapped away. I had a longing to find my creativity but the law simply took up whatever energy I had. After a grueling day at the office spent reading and writing, the last thing I had space for was to write or read for pleasure.
Then a few years ago, everything shifted.
I went through a burnout. I finally found myself sitting in a therapist office after feeling ineffective, disengaged, and a deep sense of exhaustion for months. She went through all the symptoms of burnout and I realized, oh, that’s what I have.
Part of the recovery process was to reclaim my creative life.
The therapist suggested I buy a journal and start writing. I went out, bought a journal, sat down to write and I was completely paralyzed. I didn’t have anything to write. I would write a few words, look at it, think how silly the words were, cross it out and sit, looking at the blank page.
I signed up for a journaling class and that was incredibly helpful. Speaking to others about my writer’s block, the fear, the hesitation was healing.
Eventually, I started sitting down for a few minutes and writing “Morning Pages” by Julia Cameron. She explains what it is and how to do it in the video below.
Recently, I joined a women’s writing group. We meet once a week, journal in hand and we write. I love the nonsense approach. The goal is to write — sometimes poorly, sometimes better but setting aside the inner narrator and write.
If you’re interested in joining a small group of lawyers for mindfulness and free-form writing, you can check out my next workshop here.