Writing is a Powerful Tool to Enhance Your Life

Power of Writing

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.

Processing Emotions

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.

Capturing Achievements

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.

Big Thinking

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

Benefits of Writing

Blogging - JournalingAre you a blogger or one who journals? Do you do any kind of regular writing? For some of us, it is a habit that started in our youth and is just part of our life. For others, we may write regularly for a while and then not for some time, and come back to it. It may be a habit that you don’t ever question. Or you may question the benefit of writing consistently. It’s possible you never have done this kind of writing.

I am a sporadic writer, although in the past months my blogging has become more regular and frequent on my business blog. I also do occasional posting on a personal blog.

There are various styles and purposes for journaling and for blogging. There can be benefit in trying out different styles and writing for different purposes at various stages of your life.

My mother didn’t journal as we think of it now, but she wrote in a diary every day for over 50 years. She usually used 5-year diaries that she purchased and which provided about 4 narrow lines per day. I have those diaries and they certainly provide a view into her daily life over the years. The emphasis was on what she did, what was going on with the family, and what the weather was. (Her diaries include high and low temperatures daily for those 50+ years in southern Wisconsin!) It is quite a treasure to have.

This is an example of very simple, regular writing that has value for the writer and those who read it later, if you choose to make it available.

Recently I read an article that listed seven ways that a habit of regular writing can improve our lives after age 50. Here they are:

• helps you clear the mind
• aids in the recovery of one’s memories
• you will be able to stockpile ideas
• improves your verbal and writing skills
• puts your life events into perspective
• you will feel like you have accomplished something
• it’s a great mental exercise

Author Eileen Williams summed up the benefits this way: “It is the best exercise for the brain. It enables the mind to relax, think freely with no stress. It keeps you fit and in good shape.” The entire article is on her blog, Feisty Side of Fifty: Benefits of Writing

Consider experimenting with different styles and purposes of blogs or journals if you already are a regular writer. If you are in a hiatus from a previous pattern of writing, give it another try – perhaps in a different style.

If you have never tried, write in some style for 30 consecutive days and see how you like it and if you begin seeing some of the benefits listed above. If you don’t know how to start, here’s a book that can give you ideas:

The Journaling Life: 21 Types Of Journals You Can Create To Express Yourself And Record Pieces Of Your Life

I would love to hear about your experiences!!