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Mari L. McCarthy

The Productive Writer: Mari L. McCarthy and the Power of Journaling

Mari L. McCarthy is The Founder and Journaling Therapy Guide at She learned about the transformative power of journaling—and of ambidextrous handwriting—when she temporarily lost function on the right side of her body due to Multiple Sclerosis. Journaling lead to a wide range of habit change for McCarthy, as she reworked her diet and routines in ways that are leading to profound physical healing.

Through her web site, Create Write Now, she offers a range of coaching, consultation, and resources to help others who are on their own journeys of personal transformation. She shared her current daily routine and habits with us:

What’s your own daily routine like? What habits do you cultivate and what benefits do you find in them?

My daily routine is organized and scheduled on my Google calendar. Google sends me email alerts for all my activities.

This is my daily routine Monday through Saturday: I awaken around 6am, do my in-bed stretches, shower and show up at my office desk to do my daily pen-to-paper ambidextrous Morning Pages from 7-7:30am From 7:30-7:40am, I do my meditation then onto any household chores like laundry, garbage collection, plant watering and preparing my breakfast of fresh fruits, chopped 88% dark chocolate bites, protein (eggs or seafood). I eat only gluten-free, dairy-free, soy free foods and mix and match based on what my body feels it needs. From 8:00-8:30 I sit down and mindfully eat my breakfast. At 8:30, I put on my iPod connected headphones and practice my singing from 8:30-9:00. From 9:00 – 10:00 I work on my business: visioning, updating my business plan, website to dos for my webmaster which I put on our monthly meeting agenda and we meet once a month to discuss, doing social media (Facebook) updates, communicating with my graphic designer and virtual assistant, and check, organize and answer any emails. Currently, from 10am to 12pm I’m writing my memoir, Thinking with My Heart: A Journeyer’s Journey Of Self-Compassion, Harmony and Healing. 12-1pm is lunchtime, 1-5pm I hold client and business meetings and update my 10 or so Words With Friends games. 5-6 dinner, from 6-7pm I watch the Newshour online (I gave away my TV about 6 years ago). I catch up on other videos and online reading and around 8:30 I do my pen to page Night Notes, and prepare for my 7-8 hours sleep and dream time.

Sunday is my cyber-free (no computer) day. I do my Morning Pages, meditation, and singing practices then read, update my personal goals, listen to my Ipod audiotapes, lunch with friends, walk my beach and do whatever I feel like doing. I do turn on my computer to listen to the Pittsburgh Steelers during football season.

Journaling is my main habit. In addition to my daily pen to paper ambidextrous Morning Pages and Night Notes, I keep a journal (a three subject spiral bound notebook) in my office and downstairs among my piles of books. I find that having a spur of the moment Journaling sit down, even 5 minutes or a page, helps me stay centered, figure out where to go next and learn more about myself. Journaling is my therapist, coach, and mentor and helps me create and modify my daily routine which makes me healthier, happier, more creative and productive and….

The most common advice we hear about writing habits is simply to write every day. But what’s your best advice for overcoming procrastination and getting quality work out of your time spent writing?

Yes, scheduling our writing and showing up every day is the key. Practice, practice, practice. It take a lot of work to get disciplined so that our writing becomes a natural part of our daily routine. That’s where a Journaling Practice helps us out. Big time. Keeping a daily journaling practice, helps us clear out the crap we’ve been carrying around since childhood, deal with the procrastination (a fancy word for fear), inner critics, negativity, overly critical thoughts, feelings and beliefs and unleashes our muses. Keep and use your pen and journal during your writing time and it will keep you writing, writing, writing.

Are there any habits you’re trying to develop now? What motivated you to work on them?

I’m working on remembering and recording my dreams on a daily basis and making my meditation practice part of my daily routine. Thanks to my journaling, I’m more in touch with my heart, intuition and soul and things just come to me or in the case of dreams, I got an email from a friend on a new dream journaling workshop. I was talking to a friend who introduced me to a meditation teacher who came to my home and gave me a meditation practice refresher course. Journaling is magical, mysterious and spiritual too.

Who or what inspires you? Whose habits would you like to know more about and why?

Music and singing inspires me. It gets and keeps me in my body so I bring all of me to whatever I’m creating. I’d love to know more about President Obama’s habits and how he stays focused and productive and leads our nation forward. provides everything you need to improve performance in diet, fitness, productivity, and life. Join others who are improving their writings skills by adding these habits to your dashboard:

  • Write in Journal: a foundational habit for writers and habit trackers.
  • Write Morning Pages: handwritten stream-of-consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning.
  • Dream Journal: tap the power of the unconscious by becoming mindful of your dreams.