Write the truth. How writing can help you heal
I may have a slight office supply addiction. (Which is a major understatement).
For years, I have collected notebooks. Gorgeous leather-bound notebooks with heavy paper. Cheap composition books that look classic and nostalgic. Plain Moleskines in multiple packs. I have a whole shelf in my bookshelf just for notebooks. (seriously.) I just can't resist buying a great notebook when I see one.
I also love pens. Color pens. Ink pens. Pencils. The regular Bic pen (which is actually my favorite). Or the classic fountain pen that is heavy and lies perfect in the hand.
But I never got to the point where I connected the two passions. I think the only thing I've hand-written the last couple of years are exams.
All the notebooks were left blank. Whenever I tried to start using one, I froze. I just couldn't start writing. A blank notebook has so much potential. So much hope. The possibility of containing the next bestseller. The brilliant poem or gorgeous doodles that everyone but me seems to be able to make while they are on the phone or doing something else.
And I couldn't fill it with my ugly less than perfect handwriting. My boring thoughts and shopping lists. And so I kept buying notebooks & pens, but I didn't see myself worthy of using them. And I was afraid of discovering the truth about myself.
-- Until now.
You know that moment in Eat. Pray. Love. when Elizabeth writes to herself:
"I’m here. I love you. I don’t care if you need to stay up crying all night long, I will stay with you. There’s nothing you can ever do to lose my love. I will protect you until you die, and after your death I will still protect you. I am stronger than Depression and I am braver than Loneliness and nothing will ever exhaust me." (-Elizabeth Gilbert)
So one day when I was desperately filled with emotions and didn't know what to do, I decided to give it a go. I ended up writing 11 pages in my notebook in one go. I poured my heart out on the paper. And while I didn't have a revelation or epiphany, I did end up consoling myself through my own written voice. And I have filled up two whole notebooks with thoughts since then.
Somehow it feels like I've been gathering notebooks for years just for this very reason. To be prepared for when I really needed it the most.
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I'd like to share some of the things I've learned about writing and healing
:: Use a notebook with no lines. You'll be free to write exactly what comes to mind. Big thoughts may want to come out huge. Small thoughts might need the tiniest of letters. Give yourself the space.
:: Buy yourself a wonderful notebook. Your thoughts deserve the heaviest of paper and the softest of leather if that's what you want.
:: Use a pen that moves quickly. Your thoughts will always be faster than your hand.
:: Don't think, just write. Keep your hand moving. If you notice you've stopped writing and started thinking, write down those thoughts too.
:: Move towards the discomfort in your writing. If you touch a subject that feels uncomfortable, write more about that.
:: Always bring a notebook & pen with you, no matter where you are. Write when you feel overwhelmed, stressed, surprised or curious about your feelings.
:: Be curious, ask questions. What do I feel? Why do I feel this way? What can I do about it? All are great questions to start with.
:: Don't worry about grammar or points of view. I sometimes write in first person (I think, I do, I feel) and sometimes I switch to second person (you can do it, you are worthy) when I need to tell myself something.
:: Write just to write. You don't have to come up with revolutionary thoughts every time you write. Sometimes it's okay to just rant about the small things.
:: Make writing a priority, schedule some me-time.
:: Focus on what you feel when you write. Let the emotions come, and sit with them . Write them out. Explain how your feelings look like, what they taste like, which color they are. Don't run away.
:: Write first thing in the morning, when you are still in the transition between night and day. When your mind is foggy and you are more connected to your unconscious.
:: Write before bed to get worries and problems out of your head. Keep a notebook on your nightstand so you can write things down if you wake up during the night.
:: Tell the truth. Tell the truth. Tell the truth. No one else will know who you really are if you can't be honest with yourself first.
:: Keep your notebooks somewhere safe. They will be your books of wisdom and tell your story someday. You might regret it if you burn them or get rid of them.
:: Not just write when you're dealing with negative emotions. Share your happiness, your joy and your gratitude.
Do you use writing to connect to your inner voice and heal? I would love to know how you do it.