The Whole Life Center nurtures wholeness in people – wherever they are in life – by offering opportunities for community, healing and inspiration.

Writing & Healing: Thoughts on Getting Started

Each of us has within us the power to write and the power to heal. Writing is a lifelong gift. Bringing ourselves to writing can also bring us to healing.

How Writing Heals

Writing is a tool-an emotional, intellectual, and spiritual tool. Writing about your joys, confusions, grief or anger can help in finding meaning and purpose in your life.

Sometimes writing about something allows those emotions to find a new home. I don't know about you, but I like it when anger and angst find new homes-such as my journal! This is just one of the ways writing can lead to healing.

Writing also heals by:

Allowing for a safe, judgment-free zone for self expression Encouraging "freedom to mourn loss and live beyond it," says writing and healing author Charles Anderson in "Me acuerdo: Healing Narrative in Stones for Ibarra"

Creating a shift from being a victim to being in charge of the story, according to Susan J. Brison, Philosophy Professor and trauma survivor

Acknowledging the deep-seated, human need for stories of hope and survival

Show Up to 'Heal Up'

In the words of Woody Allen: "Eighty percent of success is showing up." It's the same with writing and healing.

I've said in my workshops that the practice of writing is, in many ways, like yoga. The more you engage in the practice, the more strength, flexibility, and balance you develop. The more surefooted you are, the more it is sensed inwardly and outwardly.

Sometimes you just have to 'show up' and put your head in a different place in order to feel better. I usually feel more relaxed and at peace when I write a few words of gratitude in my journal or complete a series of sun salutations. The trick is to get started.

Here are 5 ways to show up so you can start your writing and healing practice:

  1. Find or create a space you enjoy. Clear the clutter and reminders of other obligations.
  2. Set a schedule and time frame that you devote to just writing. Fifteen minutes Tuesday and Thursday mornings before coffee and email? Evenings as you reflect on your day? What ever you choose, stick to it, even if all you do is doodle or comment on a favorite poem the first few times.
  3. Light a candle close by that reminds you and others-well maybe not the dog-of your purpose and that you are off limits.
  4. Check in with yourself. Without judgment, take stock of how you are feeling today: tired, snarky, blue, hungry, happy.
  5. Be in your head and heart.

Choose Your Writing Tools

To clear the way for thoughts to flow, you need to decide if you are writing in a notebook, a journal, your smart phone, iPad, or on the computer.

Some people find they can write better by hand. Mary Sojourner calls this "the heart-line" since our thoughts flow from brain to hand by way of the heart. But others, like me, find they can access a writing flow more easily using a keyboard.

If you are not using a computer, many options exist:

  • Simple lined paper for those who need lines.
  • Blank sheets in a notebook for those more prone to doodling.
  • A bound journal
  • Scratch paper for the "green" recycler

If, like me, you're afraid to mess up a fancy journal or feel it unworthy of random, unorganized, or even ugly thoughts-then free yourself of that notion.

Buy something you can get in the mud with-literally and metaphorically. Some people like to tape clippings and/or doodled-napkins in their journal. Whatever works for you!

When I write at home, I almost always write on the computer. When I travel I use a generic, soft-cover, college-ruled 7" notebook similar to the more intimidating Moleskin notebooks I wish my first draft ramblings worthy of.

Just Start

Whatever writing tools you prefer, the key is to go easy on yourself. Just start. After all, the end-result is to feel better, so you don't want to complicate the art of writing with worry or self-doubt. And, you don't have to wait until you have purchased that collector's edition Mont Blanc pen. Just get the words, thoughts and ideas on the page, so the healing process can begin.

Until we meet again on this blog, or in a writing workshop at the Whole Life Center, I wish you well writing.



Renee Rivers