- It doesn’t matter how often you write. 3-4 times/week may be better.
- It doesn’t matter how long you spend writing.
- The subject matter should be determined by the individual – by you.
- You should write in a comfortable environment.
- Writing is most effective when done immediately after trauma.
The benefits of writing are many. It works for coping with:
- heart disease
- cystic fibrosis
- chronic pain
- losing job
- improved immune function
- fewer visits to health care facilities
- better self reports of overall health
I have intermittently kept journals throughout my life. I mainly wrote in them during bad times. I have scads of them in my bookcase. One day, after I’m long gone, someone can read about the rough times in my life. I was always told that if you have things swimming around in your head – obsessions, anxiety, fear – the act of writing them down takes them out of your head. Our brain only keeps circulating that which we haven’t processed. Once I wrote things down, it helped to clean out the messy clutter in my brain. Plus, it actually made me think about the issue I was dealing with in a way that made them real … or made it obvious that they were all in my head.
This time I decided to write about my depressive cycle while I was in it. I did it partly because I wanted to paint a picture of what I was feeling for myself. Now, I’m on the internet, so it’s a little embarrassing to put my nuttiness out there for everybody to see. But, I’ve been doing this long enough that I know there are people out there who are suffering and need to know that they are not alone, and the process helps me. By writing about it, I really did get to tease out what I was feeling, and it helped me to stay above the lowest point. I got there that first night, but, after writing my “box full of darkness” blog, the worst part melted away. The writing shined a light in the darkness.
I love the fact that my writing is also a record and sometimes a scrapbook. I go back now and look at past blogs when I’m struggling or if I’m frustrated about something. What did I do last time? Would I do that now? Did it work? Or, was it a temporary fix? I remember going back to my journals when I started counseling after my marriage ended. I had this idea that we had at least a good year or two before it started to crash and burn, but my journals told me that we crashed 2 weeks after we married. In fact, 3 months after my marriage began, I asked a marriage counselor if it was too soon to call it quits. When I read that, I remembered it, but I had totally wiped that early memory from my brain. My recordings taught me that I wasn’t blind to what was happening. I knew it early on. I just failed to act. I have such a problem trusting my instincts. My journals show that over and over. Page after page, I talked about how I need to set boundaries… I needed to get out… this was not healthy … it was killing me. I knew it. My failure to act was the issue.
When I started blogging at Jessica’s prodding, I immediately loved it. I couldn’t sleep for 4 days with all the stories that were flooding my brain. I wanted to tell them all, and now I had an avenue. Most days, I don’t even have to think about what to write. Something just shows up. Every now and then, I get writer’s block. It’s real. I can’t think of what to write. If I do start writing something, I hate it. It’s too dry. There’s no creativity to it. There’s no “me” in it. It’s like a newspaper article devoid of any of the flavor of good writing. The last time I had writer’s block, I learned a new trick. I posted on FB that I had writer’s block and asked for topics. I got help from friends. I used a couple to get started. But, what it really did is it shook up my thinking. They had GREAT ideas. It was like a primer for a well. Their energy about my writing ignited mine. What I realized is that when I have writer’s block, I’m usually in a period where I’m judging myself too much. Maybe I’m not feeling good about myself. That particular time I got in a funk about what people think about me, and I censored myself so much that nothing could come out. I learned from the process.
I sometimes wonder if one day I’ll just stop writing as suddenly as I started. That might be kind of neat. You know… the old story of a spiritual impulse that eventually just ran its course. The well is dry. I don’t know. I just know there are days when I can’t NOT write. I didn’t want to write a second time today, but this topic was begging to be written. I have to do it when the topic is driving me because I won’t sleep otherwise. The urge is that powerful. I can see why artists get into a flow, and they have to work furiously to get something done. It’s as if something else is in control, and I am just a tool for expression. Those blogs are the ones that I love. They are imaginative, creative and interesting. Some days I just write. Eh…. not so good. But, I have to put my fingers to the keyboard on a regular basis in order to get to the gold. I can’t believe that I waited until I was 51 to start this incredible writing journey. I wonder where I’d be if I’d started sooner. But, I know this… everything in this world is as it should be. And, I’ll continue to work hard to take action on my instincts. I’ll have a legacy … a record … a picture of who I was in my short time here. That’s really freaking cool.