I had a conversation while at the hairdresser’s about the work that I do and how my work involves writing, the teaching and encouragement of writers, and how that sometimes also includes one on one coaching. My hairdresser told me about how they’d always enjoyed writing and how as a child they used to write essays and little stories and how they enjoyed the act of escaping away into a fictional setting.
Someday, I would like to write a book, my hairdresser said. But I keep thinking that writing means I need to carve out lots of time to write and I don’t know that I have the patience to sit down for long stretches of time just to write.
She then went on to tell me of how she’d made this resolve to take along a journal during her holiday with the intent of doing some sort of travel journal.
Except, she said. At the end of the day, I would find myself quite overwhelmed by everything that I needed to write down. I just didn’t know where to start or how to write it down anymore.
It was a story that I recognised from others who were just learning to embrace writing as a practice.
I recently gave a fresh notebook to a young and upcoming writer and her first response was to say that she would take time to write thoughtful things in it.
To which I said: write everything in it. Write even your mundane grocery list in it. Write a to-do list or any random scribbling.
She said: Oh, then I’ll look for the perfect pen.
And then, she looked at me because I was shaking my head and she said with a laugh. I know what you’re going to say. Don’t wait to find the perfect pen. Any pen will do.
And we laughed together because she already knew what my next words would be: Just write.
In embracing the practice of writing, I think of the 7 minute rule. I don’t know if it’s a rule, really. It’s something that just came to mind and something that feels handy. 5 minutes feels too short and 10 minutes feels too long. But 7 minutes feels somehow just right. So, I gave the same advice to my hairdresser as I give to new writers who feel daunted by the idea of finding time to write. I said: find 7 minutes. Just 7 minutes. It can be shorter, it can be longer, but set your phone for 7 minutes if you’re sitting somewhere in between moments. Say to yourself: Okay. It’s 7 minutes. Just write.
It doesn’t have to be brilliant. It doesn’t have to be poetic. It can be mundane. It can be anything. But just take 7 minutes to write. You just might be surprised.