You can write yourself healthier: Part 2
Writing has the power to heal us.
Our wellbeing is compromised on many fronts. Every day people are exposed to illness, loss, death, divorce, injury, emotional trauma or abuse. Workplace bullying and sexual abuse have become commonplace. If it doesn’t affect us personally, we know someone who has been affected and we see it daily on the news.
We learn to be tough; we become resilient. And yet, inside, we hurt.
“Writing has saved my life.” The number of writers and authors through the years who have made this claim is endless. I have said the same thing more than once.
In my previous introductory post, I had shown how writing, when done with purpose, can save lives. Such expressive writing is inseparable from close and purposeful reading.
Louise DeSalvo, the author of Writing as a Way of Healing, argues that through telling our stories, we can transform our (and others’) lives.
Purposeful Writing helps us heal through:
- Giving us spiritual and emotional insight
- Changing the writer
- Helping the writer come to terms with something painful
Purposeful writing is:
More than journaling. It is not making a list of daily events. Rather, it is
- About feelings. What do you long for? What do you fear? What do you experience?
- Building a path from the dark place of hopelessness and despair toward hope and light. It is building a sturdy ladder out of the pit.
- Writing about where you’ve been (Revisit the past, but don’t dwell there!)
- Writing about where you are (the present)
- Writing about where you are going (the future—your dreams & aspirations.) Yes, there is a future!
- Writing what you are grateful for
- Writing with the goal of freedom, safety, and healing—and eventually, joy
Examples of how writing helped authors find healing abound. Henry Miller (Tropic of Cancer), explained: “The more I wrote … the more I became a human being … I was getting the poison out of my system.”
Writing that heals, helps us change how we feel about ourselves. It changes the stories we tell ourselves. We are not worthless (e.g. abuse victim.) We have value, in spite of what happened or is happening.
Keep in mind while participating in writing as healing:
- When writing about traumatic experiences, medical treatment and supervision is often advised.
- Always write in a position of safety, and remain safe. Learn to use the writing as a substitute for self-harm and self-neglect
- Healing writing and storytelling teaches us empathy
- Writing is creative—it is creating art. The act of creating art heals.
- Self-care is crucial:
- Healthy eating (Plant-based whole foods. Limit animal products)
- Regular exercise. Fitness additionally bolsters us emotionally.
- Enough sleep (6-8 hr./day)
- Social interaction. Don’t isolate yourself!
Purposeful (Expressive) Writing Techniques:
- Writing about a traumatic experience (traditional method):
- For twenty minutes a day
- For 4 days
- Week 1: Expressive writing (Personal writing)
- Week 2: Transactional writing (Letters to others—which you don’t send)
- Week 3: Poetic writing
- Week 4: Storytelling
- Week 5: Affirmative writing (Looking at the present but writing about the future—focus on goals & aspirations)
- Week 6: Legacy writing—what will your legacy be?
—let your writing be a blessing to others
Expressive (purposeful) writing’s aim:
- Giving yourself a safe space to write from
- Writing from your deepest feelings to make sense of the emotional trauma
- By paying attention to emotional business (not only describing.)
- You learn to move from trauma to affirmation (from past to present to future)
- Through writing, you find awareness & clarity about your gifts and strengths
- This leads to personal growth and healing
Above all, use the writing to grow from victim to survivor and keep growing to become a victor:
- Someone who has found a new voice
- Someone who is no longer silent, but a witness of victory,
- Someone with value, someone with a new purpose
Remember, your writing has purpose and value—not only in healing you, but, if edited and published, can be shared and help heal others. Your writing can bless others.
Writing has the power to heal. Writing can help save lives—our own included. Let’s explore how to master it.
Discover the healing power of writing, Writing has the power to heal us, expressive writing, purposeful writing, Louise DeSalvo, Writing as a way of healing, John Evans, James Pennebaker, Expressive writing, Depression, abuse, victim, survivor, victor, safety, blessing others,
Thank you for reading! A somewhat lengthier version was also published on Medium.com
Here's a collection of some of my short creative nonfiction tales. Go check them out!
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