The benefits of writing and why we’re putting pen to paper this month



I never write by hand anymore. Isn’t it terrible? I used to keep diaries. I’d spend hours, especially when I was travelling, writing down my deepest feelings and opinions. I’d write about life and love. Sometimes, I go into our basement and look through those diaries. They take me back to different times in my life. They remind me of who I was in my teens and twenties, before I became a mother. More than anything, they make me smile...

I want to teach my children the importance of handwriting. I want them to keep diaries. To scribble down their thoughts and opinions. I want them to write about how they see the world. And I need to start writing more often so I can encourage them to do the same, which is why I’m very excited to be participating in a handwriting challenge as part of Officeworks’ new initiative Time to Write.

Inspired by research findings about Australia’s handwriting habits, Officeworks has launched Time to Write to educate people on the positive impact that writing by hand has on wellbeing. And let’s face it: we could all do with improving our wellbeing a little. Officeworks will be hosting weekly challenges, centred around four themes and a hashtag #timetowrite:

Week 1 (29 August – 4 September) Opinions: What do you feel strongly about? What is the viewpoint you would like to express?
Week 2 (5 September – 11 September) Creative Expression: Write poetry, song lyrics, a piece of fiction, or a letter to a loved one.
Week 3 (12 September – 18 September) Positive Difference: Do you have an idea that could benefit the community, or even change the world?
Week 4 (19 September – 25 September) Daily Thoughts: Pen your musings, reflections, memories or goals.

So my challenge? And the challenge I’m giving you? Over the next four weeks put pen to paper and write for 15- 20 minutes each day. Writing by hand enables you to pause for a moment and put more thought into what you’re about to write. In fact, recent studies show that it encourages a deeper way of thinking and focuses us to carefully consider every word that is written.


My handwritten opinion piece. Spirax Notebook, $1.98 from Officeworks


So I’ll go first. This week’s theme ‘opinions’ made me think about some of the things I feel strongly about. I thought flexible working was a good place to start. So I sat down and put pen to paper and wrote about flexible working. I wonder if I reread this in 20 years, where we will be. Will anything have changed? Will women ever feel equal? Will we be more valued? And does flexible working actually exist in the corporate world? Or do we need to become our own boss to achieve it. In my experience, it’s not possible to work for a corporate company and have the flexibility you need if you’re the primary carer. The one who does the school run, packs the lunches, washes the clothes and cleans the house. This all takes time and if you can’t afford to outsource it (or want to be the one who takes your kids to ballet classes), it’s very hard to juggle a corporate career with caring for your children. For me, it just didn’t work.

I knew after my second daughter arrived that I’d never go back to my career as a magazine editor. I barely earnt enough to cover our childcare. Add another child to the equation and the numbers just didn’t add up. I also felt disconnected from my daughter. I missed her walk for the first time. The nanny texted me to tell me. I would often rush through the door at 6pm (having felt guilty for leaving the office at 5.30pm) to find her sleeping. I’d make as much noise as possible hoping she’d wake up so I’d get a little more time with her.

Don’t get me wrong – I had an incredibly flexible, understanding boss. She was the best boss I’ve ever had. After my first child, she allowed me to come back three days a week. The problem was, it wasn’t a three-day a week job and we both knew it. After my second daughter arrived, I went in to speak to the human resources manager and publisher and was told if I wanted to return to work, I would need to come back five days a week and start at 730am every other day. This time around, there was no flexibility granted. I was a mother of two young children and I felt like because I was a mother who wanted to tuck her kids into bed at night, I was no longer the right person for the job.

Of course, I resigned. Sadly, I felt I wasn’t really given any other option other than resigning. My salary would have barely covered the childcare fees and I wasn’t prepared to be away from the girls for five long days or get to my desk at 7.30am. My job as a mother wasn’t compatible with my job in magazines. It barely worked with one child. I have girlfriends who work long hours in finance five days a week, but there’s a huge financial incentive for them to do that. It also means you can employ people to support you and make the juggle easier.

One of the best things about motherhood for me is that it catapulted my career into a completely different direction. I never imagined I’d be running a site for style-conscious mothers, but here I am, and I love every minute of it. I now have a flexible working arrangement. I am my own boss. I dictate my hours. So I want to ask the mamas out there working for a corporate company their opinion on the matter. How do they manage the corporate juggle? Do they believe flexible working exists? How has their career changed since they became mothers? What’s your opinion on flexible working? Tell us and share a snap of your handwritten opionion piece on Instagram with the hashtag #timetowrite.

You can also get involved on the ground at various Officeworks activations that are taking place across Victoria, Australia. Officeworks will be hosting events at business centres, co-working spaces, cafes, public spaces, wellness centres and schools across the country. At each, people will be able to reconnect with the art of handwriting, with writing products supplied, as well as information around the personal benefits of handwriting. Finally, on Saturday, September 3 the Time to Write challenge will come to life at Officeworks Highett. From 10 am to 1pm, KIIS FM radio street team will be hosting the event which is set to include a free sausage sizzle, and writing activities, product giveaways to help encourage people to pick up a pen and start writing again.

To find out how you can get involved in Time to Write head to www.timetowrite.com.au. In association with Officeworks

Image: Grace Alyssa Kyo


COMMENTS

  • Yulia Pogodina Ambrosio

    thank you so much for this! i could relate to everything you said – from missing having my handwritten diaries (especially travel ones!) to choosing my son over a prestigious full-time job, and thus changing my career (yet again) to be able to take care of him while making (some) money.
    and i am gladly taking on the writing challenge! such a great idea – we all need to write more, it helps to organize our thoughts better. btw, did you know that many millionaires share 2 habits? they all journal and they all have a morning ritual. and while morning ritual is easy (we all have one, don’t we?), journaling takes discipline and time. so let’s get on it!