Long ago, I discovered that writing was a way for me to harness, focus, and direct my active imagination. It started out as a way for me to keep myself from worrying about things I couldn’t change. It’s progressed into a form of meditation; a daily practice of contemplation, which is nothing more than the effort to bring the mind to observe the outer physical world and the inner reality of thoughts and emotions.

Another way of expressing this idea would be to say that writing has taught me how to simply be with my thoughts, rather than to struggle against or judge my thoughts. Because, in writing, there are no good or bad thoughts, since all thoughts have the ability to lead to a story, once you stop bottling them up and let them flow–sort of like waking dreaming. Oh, there’s a thought… let’s see where it goes. And before you know it, you’re off on an expedition; you’ve met the monsters, slayed the dragons, beat the bad guys, and made it home in time for dinner. At least in my mind. Who knows where your mind will take you.

Writing requires discipline and practice. Good writing does anyway. You have to put in the time. Consistently. And, eventually, it really helps to get some honest feedback. Many people starting out find all this slightly intimidating. There are lots of books on how to get going. Julia Cameron’s Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity is one of the more popular ones. A useful exercise she recommends is called Morning Pages. Each morning, you write three pages about anything. It doesn’t matter what you write; it’s just important that you write. This exercise helps to get rid of the writer’s internal censor, while making writing habitual. It doesn’t take much time. You’re not even supposed to think. But the act itself gets you past all that self-defeating fretting about why you think you aren’t a creative person. This is all great, except for the feedback part.

One way to get feedback is to create a blog and write every day. Yes, there’s something to be said for the private act of putting pen to paper, I agree. It’s a good, safe place to start. But, when you’re ready, the advantage of a blog is the capacity for interactive feedback. You write. People discover your blog and comment. You write some more. People comment more, and you get to see what pieces of your writing capture people’s interest.

What? You think it sounds embarrassing to share your fledgling writing or your innermost thoughts with strangers?

Use a fake name. Who’s gonna know? The idea is that you’ve created a space where you go every day to put thoughts to paper–so to speak. A place where you can begin creating the habit of writing. If you give it a try, I’ll venture to say that you’ll find it oddly compelling. And that’s a good thing for helping to keep you going. I like using my blog for my morning writing warm-up before I move over to working on my book.

Setting up a blog is a snap. Google’s E-Blogger is one of the easiest to use. Windows Live Spaces and Yahoo 360 have blog spaces too. They’re all free. I use WordPress, but it’s a little more complicated. If you’re all thumbs when it comes to geeky stuff, I’d stick with one of the first three.

Go ahead. Have fun. Unleash what’s in your head. Write.