If you’ve been writing for any length of time, you’ve probably heard the advice to write for yourself first at least a thousand times. This is obviously great advice, but today, I’d like to suggest something a little different: writing TO yourself. It’s a technique usually thrown about in self help circles rather than writing circles, and for good reason. Writing to yourself forces you to really consider where you are. There are also a few ways you can use this technique to improve your life.
Today I’d like to talk about a couple that have helped me develop a better relationship with myself.
Email your future self
My first experience with writing to myself was sending an email through a site like FutureMe.org (I can’t remember if it was actually that site or not). This site lets you email yourself, scheduling the email to go out during any year between this year and 2067. And you can send as many as you want for free! So you can send yourself an email for one year from now, five years from now, or even fifty years from now.
I sent a single five year email when I was 15. Then I forgot about the site until my email arrived a couple years ago. I stared at the email for a long time. I read it four or five times. The email was strangely optimistic considering my mental state when I fixed it, but back then I believed stubbornness alone could overcome my struggles. I had no idea how much mental illness would affect my life. Or how contending with poverty as an adult would drain my mental capacity. Despite my struggles, I thought I could buckle down and get a novel published by 20.
Still, this email reminded me that despite many setbacks, I stayed true to myself and my life goals. I may not have done things in my original–and overly ambitious–timeline, but I was well on the way to achieving them.
An email to your future self is like a time capsule. It reminds you who you were in that moment, and allows you to see how much you’ve grown. And it’s a great way to narrow in on what you truly want. Where do you want to be in one year? Five years? Ten years? Write it all out, and when you receive the email, you’ll know if you’ve gone off course.
Leave yourself positive notes
Creative pursuits–especially the professional kind–leave us vulnerable. There is the probability of rejection at literally every turn. There are “critiquers” and “reviewers” who seem to exist to wear us down. Many of us also struggle with poverty, feast and famine financial cycles, mental illness, or other chronic illnesses. Some of us are artists because their disabilities make it difficult to work “regular” jobs.
It is all too easy to get down on ourselves, no matter how hard we’re working or how awesome everyone else thinks we are.
This is why I’ve taken to doing a new thing: leaving myself positive notes when I’m having a great day. I point out all the reasons why that day was awesome, and how it proves that I am awesome. Most recently I decided to leave one of these positive notes in my author copy of Keeper of the Dawn (which you can see in the picture above).
These notes aren’t going to cure my depression, but they do remind me that I’ve had good days–and that I will have them again. A few well placed notes of your own can do the same for you.