The bane of my actual existence has been trying to explain or define what I do in a succinct way. I have such a felt understanding of who I am and why I do all of the things I do, but the only time words fail me is trying to find a few titles that can speak into it. It isn’t helped by the fact that I don’t believe that we are only what we do, so identifying with a role or title isn’t my favourite activity.
The label that I’ve always found a home in since I was a child until present day, is that of a writer. I use author sometimes, but stepping into the word of writer feels like wearing the cosy threadbare jumper that you always return to. It’s also a word that is self-defined and only earned through actual writing. Whether that writing is published is irrelevant, you are a writer when you come to the page, write and keep coming back to the page.
You can call it journaling or writing, it makes no difference, but the restorative powers of words to feel, heal and be with yourself still gives me goosebumps. Through my career in journalism to writing a book, I have always used writing to return back to myself. It’s also a key part of my Repose workshops as it gets to the core of how the theme is landing for you and how it’s shaping who you are and your worldview.
A Guide To Writing For Feeling
Dump it out
Should you use journal prompts? What are journal prompts? Where can you find them? Prompts for writing are helpful when you’re getting started, you can find some in the exercises in Take It In and there are thousands online. There might be specific prompts for different moods or if you’re reflecting on a certain theme. Free-writing is often where we get the chance to go a bit deeper and just dump out everything onto the page, as if you’re talking to a non-judgemental pal who you know won’t answer back or chatting to a therapist. Just start writing and see where you go. It can start with how you’re feeling, what’s on your mind, what you’re excited about or nervous about. Just trust yourself to write.
Let it be messy
The biggest stumbling block is often believing that there’s a way you can mess this up. You can’t. You’re not submitting your journal entry to win a Pulitzer Prize (unless you actually do), so release the pressure, no-one is seeing your innermost thoughts. It can be incoherent, it can be filthy, it can be whatever you want it to be. If you don’t want to make it a daily practice, then don’t. Write whenever you want to, however you want to. There are no rules and if you think there are, then you can break them.
When in doubt…
Try and write it out. There are a million ways to heal, and no single way is the best way (despite what all of those self-help guides tell you). We need to feel to heal and when feeling feels unfamiliar it’s hard to know where to begin and how to process. If you have support in therapeutic spaces or with a therapist, and need to find ways to sit with, be with or process what you’re feeling; writing them down might be a first step to try. For some of us, it might be all we need to be with something and learn more about ourselves. For others writing is the gateway to other tools and practices that can serve us. Writing often reveals what we didn’t know we needed.
It can be joyful too
I prefer using the word writing to journaling, even if it does indeed remain locked in your journal, as journaling is always spoken about in this very sad gal season way. That it’s only a place to share sadness or to ‘work’ on yourself. But, healing and inner work also includes creative writing, poetry, fiction and listing your wins and joys. It can be many things, so again, write however you want to. You might want to script out the scenes of exciting things you want to do and experience in your life. You might want to write all of the joyful things you’ve encountered, write love letters to yourself or to all of the people you love but don’t want to send. I often use A3 pads of blank paper to write on, it feels almost like a dance, bringing pen down to page and seeing what lands. See what works best for you.