Personal Writing

My big takeaway from these last 365 days of disruption (and it’s got nothing to do with COVID)

One year ago today, I anxiously packed up my car and headed out into rural North Dakota for a two-week writing residency. I had written about my deep fear of the dark and my concerns about how and what I was going to do all by myself for 14 long days. By this day last year, I had thoroughly mined the scary parts of going away. But what about the other emotions and opportunities? I had barely let myself anticipate any of the joy or success that could come from this time.

As with so many opportunities, I thought I was going for one thing and realized pretty quickly that I was absolutely not there to pursue that. The gift for me was that as soon as it became apparent that writing about my grandparents’ courtship was not something I wanted to pursue, I let it go. And I let it go without any judgment. I credit writing about that possibility before I left with helping me just stop reading and start getting curious about other things.

In the post about my fear of the dark, which I wrote nearly a month before I left, I wrote, “I want to disrupt my day to day rhythm.”

Think about that.

Three weeks and one day before I even backed out of the driveway, I was unknowingly starting to identify and articulate the work of Personal Systems Disruption, and I had no idea. How could I have? I had to take the actual time away, to stop my day to day routines, to make space for new thoughts.

I’m so curious to know: did the Universe provide me with my lightening bolt moment by the soybean field and I was able to go back and find crumbs that helped lead me to it, or did that moment manifest as the triumphant last chapter (first chapter?) of all the thinking and writing I had been doing leading up to it?

Ultimately, I don’t care which came first or how Personal Systems Disruption came about because the point for me is that it did come about. And very likely, it was a culmination of everything: I was percolating all these ideas and having this very unusual opportunity of mental and physical time away alongside experiencing this crystal clear moment, which identified this vision and the path forward.

But I didn’t know, until I went back to read these old blog posts this morning, that I had started using the same words weeks before I left. I don’t remember writing that phrase or even thinking that. And if I hadn’t written it down in a place that I could go back to, it would just be lost to me. Maybe I wouldn’t have heard or understood the clear voice by the side of the field. Maybe the revelation wouldn’t have even happened.

That has me thinking about the power and value of putting your thoughts to the page or screen. What if that’s a key component to making your desires a reality?

Believe me, I’m not pretending that I’m the first person to place emphasis on journaling/writing/doodling. I know it’s a practice held in high esteem by many thought leaders across all kinds of work. But until I went back this morning and found the phrase “I want to disrupt my day to day rhythm” casually thrown into a blog post about my fear of the dark leading up to a two-week experience that literally disrupted the entirety of my life and my goals, I kind of dismissed the value of putting pen to paper, fingers to keyboard.

So I have some questions for you:

  • Have you found value in consistent (however you define that) writing?
  • If you are a writer of any kind, are you perioidically going back and looking at your old content?
  • Have you found words, phrases, passages, full entries that you don’t remember writing but that foreshadow something significant in your life?
  • Can you point to times in your life where you’ve seen something come to fruition that you didn’t even consciously know you were working on until you went back and looked over what you had been creating leading up to it?
  • What powerful moments came to be because you provided a space for the inklings floating around in your brain to land?
  • If you aren’t currently writing but you have a place in your life that feels unfulfilled, why aren’t you writing about it? What’s holding you back? Remember, not everyone needs to write on their public blog—you can keep it super private. Believe it or not, I have actual journals I keep, too. Not everything I think ends up on this blog.

Six months ago, I wrote about the lessons I had learned at the halfway point of this year. And now I’m six months further down the path. I’ve held 3 PSD retreats and 1 PSD course for 25 people. I’ve coached private clients. I’ve given public talks. I’ve worked with a coach and met with all kinds of people. I’m even further on my way.

So what’s my big takeaway? Get writing. The quality, length and style is irrelevant. It’s the practice of doing it that counts. And if you are currently writing, go back and look over your old content. You might be surprised at what you discover you were working on well before you even consciously knew it was your work.

If you’re ready to take this even further, let me know, and I’ll add you to the wait list of people wanting to take a PSD course or retreat. I’ll possibly hold one more yet this calendar year and definitely will in the early part of 2022. Once you’re on the list, you’ll get first notice of upcoming opportunities.

It’s time to get writing—who knows what you need to uncover!

Dayna Del Val is on a mission to help others (re)discover the spark they were born with through her blog and newsletter, her professional talks and the (re)Discover Your Spark retreats she leads. Dayna works with people to help them not just identify and articulate their dreams but to develop a framework to get going on the pursuit of those dreams—today, in the next few months and for the years ahead. She's at the intersection of remarkable and so, so ordinary, but she knows that pretty much everyone else is, too. She's excited to be sharing this extraordinary journey with you.


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