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How Writing Can Make You Feel Good

By Angelica Ribeiro, PhD

Do you want to feel good after a writing session? If so, here’s what you should do.

As writers, we should consider three essential writing practices:

    1. Write daily or regularly. In her book Becoming an Academic Writer, Patricia Goodson argues that including writing in our daily routine can be very beneficial because it can help us save emotional energy. She shares that “Having a designated, scheduled time to write, daily, tends to mitigate the emotional energy spent in moving through the day wondering, ‘When will I get to my writing?’” (Goodson, 2024, p. 22). Therefore, as she points out, “Making writing a routine that happens without much effort involved in its planning can be a great way to reduce some of the unnecessary stress we add to the writing tasks” (Goodson, 2024, pp. 22-23).
    2. Write in short chunks of time. It may be counterintuitive, but keeping our writing sessions short can help us produce more writing than long sessions. As Goodson (2024) argues, “Investing small amounts of time and energy in our writing, regularly—say 30 minutes every day over a few weeks—may move our writing forward faster and more productively than writing feverishly for 10 hours a day, over 3 days, against a deadline” (p. 12).
    3. Keep a writing log. After each writing session, we should log how long we wrote and what we worked on. Among other benefits, keeping a writing log is a good practice because, as Goodson (2024) points out, writing logs can serve as a positive reinforcement and hold us accountable to ourselves by documenting that we wrote for the amount of time we planned to write.

What do these three writing practices—daily writing, short writing sessions, and writing logs—have to do with feeling good? The combination of these practices leads you to progress. And as James Clear (2018) shares in his book Atomic Habits, “One of the most satisfying feelings is the feeling of making progress” (p. 204). To make progress, he encourages us to create habits that lead us to our goals and measure our progress to provide visual proof of our hard work. For example, if we want to write a manuscript, we should create the habit of writing every day for 25 minutes and measure our progress by keeping a writing log. As a result, we will feel motivated to keep working on our writing project. Remember that “The most effective form of motivation is progress. When we get a signal that we are moving forward, we become more motivated to continue down that path” (Clear, 2018, p. 198).

This week, I caught myself smiling after spending 25 minutes revising a paper that I have to resubmit to a journal. Was I smiling because I finished the revisions? No, it was the feeling of making progress.

Bottom line: Not only do these three practices—daily writing, short writing sessions, and writing logs—help you be productive with your projects, but they also give you the feeling of making progress. As a result, you feel good.

Clear, J. (2018). Atomic habits: An easy & proven way to build good habits & break bad ones. Avery.
Goodson, P. (2024). Becoming an academic writer: 50 exercises for paced, productive, and powerful writing (3rd ed.). Sage.

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