Writing is a powerful tool. It can help enhance your life in many ways. As Joan Didion said,
“I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.”
Writing helps you create a connection between your inner self and your outer self. The mind-body connection is very powerful, and by externalizing your inner anxiety and issues you are taking a conscious positive action to improve your situation.
There are so many benefits to different kinds of writing. Here are some ways to use writing.
A simple way to understand and come to terms with your emotions is to write down whatever is bothering you. Often we have lots of emotions but don’t really know the root of them or how to manage them productively. Writing has an astounding ability to give you clarity and to start arriving at solutions. It can get you out of the confusion or paralysis you are experiencing and enable you to move forward.
One of many formats to use is letter writing. Writing a letter to yourself, a loved one, friend or someone with whom you have or had an issue in the past can really help to clarify the problem in your mind. It helps you to think through issues and to put them in context. Often the very act of writing the problem and suggesting a solution can help you achieve peace and come to terms with it.
You don’t actually need to send the letter, particularly if you have written in anger. The act of writing will have helped lessen the anger which was the purpose of the exercise. Remember, this letter can be to yourself, another person, or someone no longer alive. This strategy helps you separate out your thoughts and feelings.
Clearing Your Mind
Especially in times of uncertainty and change, our minds can be full of a wide range of thoughts. Many of them may be unimportant or irrelevant. Sometimes you have an overwhelming number of things you feel you need to do. Getting rid of them can allow you to focus and to effectively problem solve and plan. A simple way to achieve this is to “core dump.”
Core dumping is a technique devised by David Allen (Getting Things Done). You simply list everything you need to do that day. This helps to clear your mind to allow you to focus on the most important things.
Another method of mind clearing is to write a stream of consciousness first thing in the morning every day. The important point with this process is that you write continuously without stopping to think or edit about what you are setting onto the page.
Julia Cameron (The Artist’s Way) calls this method, “Morning Pages”. She advocates writing three pages or approximately 750 words of your stream of consciousness first thing in the morning as a way to clear your mind. This leaves only those important thoughts you need to focus on for the day.
Creating a Record
Diary keeping has been undertaken for centuries. It’s a powerful tool for keeping a record of activities and actions. My mother kept diaries for decades, and they are now a family treasure that provides so much history that was captured in just a few lines a day. By being able to re-read these you get to remember the past including your thoughts and feelings. Keeping your own diary allows you to recall things forgotten in the overload of events and information we experience. You can also gain understanding and insight in unique ways as you look back.
Keeping a record of your achievements can be beneficial to your self-confidence as well as self-knowledge. The record can be in various forms: journals, diaries, goal lists, to do lists, calendars. I am a sporadic journaler, but I keep my weekly task/appointment/goal calendars. These can be used to glean lists by year later on
Recording your achievements allows you to recognize and celebrate your achievements big or small. Looking back, we may recognize achievements and accomplishments that weren’t apparent at the time they occurred. This can be especially helpful when you find yourself feeling discouraged, depressed, or overwhelmed.
Dreams and goals are important as they help us to learn, grow and achieve success. Writing down your hopes and dreams allows you to not only dream about the future you’d like but to visualize it. By visualizing your dreams, you are making them more real. Consider dedicating a notebook just to this purpose. Your written record of your big thoughts will help you track them giving you a greater opportunity to achieve them.
Writing is such a powerful therapeutic tool because it allows for observation and tracking over a period of time. This provides the ability to track thoughts and feelings on a regular basis. Triggers can be identified as well as patterns.
If you want to relieve stress, gain clarity on your problems and solve them then why not pick up a pen and start writing? Another unexpected benefit is that you will probably find that you get to know yourself better.
If you want your life to change, writing is a powerful tool. By using one or more of the methods above you will be creating a commitment to change and self-improvement. You can set goals, hold yourself accountable for making the changes and monitor your progress.
Here are a variety of books on writing for self-discovery if you would like to have some ideas: Writing for Self-Discovery Resources