As a young child, I had a diary. You know, the usual ‘Dear Diary’ ramblings of a 7 year old.
This then progressed to writing in a book which I exchanged with my cousin. The ‘Dear Diary’ became ‘Dear Caz’, and I actually had a real person reading my daily thoughts.
Which may or may not have been a good thing.
I never had anything particular of note to say back then. Negativity hadn’t yet sprung into my life, and I usually wrote about what I’d be having for tea that night.
But of course, that soon changed.
“I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.”Anne Frank
My parents separated, my grandfather had a stroke and became wheelchair bound, and we were to move out of the large house I shared with nine other members of my family.
It was quite a lot for a 10-year-old to process.
A pen pal of my cousin’s – who had lived in Japan – came to visit the family before we moved out, and snuck me a card which I still have to this day.
It was so personal, and the words touched me. She had somehow penned down exactly how I was feeling, and it was in that moment, I realised the healing power of writing.
I sat in my bedroom and just wrote.
I started by writing letters to a deceased family member so it felt like I was talking to someone. I expressed my sadness, my ager, and all the emotions in-between.
I wrote to release everything I was feeling. And it helped. As a teenage who spent much of her time in her room, writing became my escape.
“Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.”Frank Kafka
At some point, I forgot about writing.
I whizzed through University, jumped my way through countless jobs, and didn’t much stop for air.
Losing my father a few years ago has been the single most traumatic event to happen in my life so far, and I struggled to vent my emotions.
Until I remembered. And I wrote him a letter.
I started journaling and ‘free-writing’, and most recently, focusing on gratitude. And now here I am, sharing my thoughts here.
“Words are a lens to focus one’s mind.”Ayn Rand
Here’s what I’ve learnt so far:
You learn more about yourself
Writing is the best way to become more self-aware. You unlock your personality and inner most thoughts. It helps you vent and speak your mind about whatever is going on in your life. There’s no constraints, no filters, and it puts your life events into perspective.
Writing can be a form of meditation
If you sit down quietly for a short focused writing session, this will encourage creativity though mindful concentration. It will help you to reflect on important tasks, decisions or goals you want to achieve, and release any thoughts you might have that day.
It improves communication
When you write something down, you become more careful in choosing the right words and more sophisticated ways of expressing yourself. This helps you to build a structure which will allow you to communicate complex ideas in a much more effective way.
It makes you feel good
James Pennebaker, a cognitive psychologist at the University of Texas-Austin, undertook a series of investigations into the benefits of writing, including its ability to heal emotional wounds. His approach was to give individuals a simple 20-minute writing assignment over four consecutive days. Participants reported feeling happier and less negative than prior to their writing experience, and having fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Whether you’re an established writer or not, writing is an incredibly valuable outlet. It keeps you sharp and focused, ready to the tackle the day ahead, or decompress at the end of a long working day.
“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”Sylvia Plath