The Power of Tools & Structure to Begin Writing

It’s taken me too long to start writing.

Most mornings, thanks to Gordo Byrn and Dickie Bush, I write a series of prompts:

What one thing am I grateful for?

What one thing am I excited about?

What virtue will I manifest today?

What’s one thing I’m avoiding?

What’s one thing I need to do today?

The past two weeks I’ve marked “writing” as both the thing I’ve been avoiding and the thing I need to do. Two weeks, and this is probably my first successful run at it.

Why writing? My previous post gets at some of it; essentially I want to clarify what I think, how I think, and why I think. I’ll go into more detail on why I’m focusing on that later. Doing this publicly adds a layer of accountability, and perhaps my process might help others. Certainly, I’ve been helped by others doing this publicly.

What’s making today work? Two things: tools and structure.


I’m a much faster typist than writer. My first instinct is always to start at the keyboard. But I’m also aware that the physical act of handwriting is a powerful tool for connecting “brain” and “body” (yes, they are the same). So this morning I grabbed a notebook and what you are reading here was handwritten in that notebook first. This is much easier, and I’ll have to think more about why. My first take would be that its difficult for me to type without thinking of an audience. (Previous work habits). Currently, that’s leading to a bit of paralysis – in particular in the act of starting to write.

The journal/notebook seems to alleviate this paralysis. Even though I know I’m going to type and publish this online, I’m feeling like I’m writing for me, which is 98% of the point.


This will certainly need to be a specific exploration/entry, but structure is perhaps the primary challenge for me. I’m working to start the day with a variety of “me” tasks.

I’m reserving the first few hours of the day for personal development – mental, physical, etc. I’m at my best in the morning, so this directionally feels right. However, I’ve struggled with sequencing the various “tasks”, which has allowed me to rationalize my way to failure. As I said, I’ll explain more later, but what is working today is that writing is coming before my daily workout (which is taking about 2 hours/day).

Today, I woke up, had coffee, prepared food for later, ate breakfast and then began writing; workout to come later. Previously the writing would be a “later” task, which allowed me to procrastinate, punt, and avoid.

It’s just one day, but it’s a win, and I’ll take it.

Keven Elliff @keven