The Healing Power of Writing

healing power of writing

healing power of writing

The Healing Power of Writing

Today I want to talk about the healing power of writing and how it can transform your mood and ultimately your life. I have always kept a journal. Although I may not always be consistent in my journaling, I know it’s there when I need it. My writing has changed over the years, it’s more mature; fewer juvenile stories of mishaps and heartbreaks fill the pages. Yet why I write has not changed. I write to heal my wounds, to share my story or to just make it through a rough patch in my business or marriage. Sometimes I simply need a safe place to pour out my anger, sadness or frustration.

Does this sound familiar? Perhaps you kept a diary as a young girl or teen, pouring your dreams and goals onto the blank pages then carefully locking the diary and hiding the key. Do you make time to write in a journal as a busy adult? Our lives tend to be so full of family and work that we often forget to tend to ourselves. We often fail to put ourselves on our own to-do list – letting our hair get too long and our clothes worn out because we are just too busy to take care of ourselves. Journaling can change how we look at ourselves and at our lives. It can help us gain perspective and remind us that we are worthy of being number one on our own to-do list from time to time.

I can hear you now: I don’t have time, that’s so selfish, my kids come first, my job keeps me so busy, I am so tired at the end of the day… We are brilliant at making excuses. In fast, if we spent more time writing than making excuses we would all be happpier, more fulfilled and eager to meet each new day. Sounds like an extreme promise, doesn’t it? But it’s not!

How writing becomes a healing power

I was reading this wonderful article by Donna Johnson in Shambala Sun magazine this morning titled “Outside the Tent.” Johnson was raised under a tent, a gospel revival tent, the daughter of an organist and stepdaughter of a famous preacher. She left this community at age 17 to go to college and start a new life. Writing was ultimately her way to heal her past and fully engage in her present but it took her many years and her daughter’s tears to realize she was shut off from feeling her own story. Here’s part of the article:

“We tell the story, and over time the story begins to tell us: who w are, who the were, what they did. I began to embody the story of abandonmet. I abandoned my dream of finishing school, of becoming a writer. I abandoned integrity and spirituality. I abandoned relationships, one after the other. Finally, I abandoned my own daughter, not physically but emotionally, hiding behind chemically induced numbness. I was there, but I was not there.

I wrote the story. I lived the story. But I could not, would not, feel the story, and that somehow kept me outside of it. Here’s what I did not know: Stories have a way of brushing up against the present, a way of whispering their secret, twisted narratives until even those who are willfully deaf are forced to listen.

Once day I came upon a self-portrait my daughter had drawn for class. I recognized her braids, the carefully outlined freckles. A tear rolled down each cheek. Under the drawing she had written: This is me.”

How many stories are you holding inside and refusing to feel, as Johnson says? I am not suggesting you write a memoir, publish or share your stories in public – unless you want to. What I am suggesting is that you allow your stories to flow out of you, onto the page where they can be reviewed until you begin to see patterns or know they can be laid to rest, unable to haunt you any longer. None of us have lived perfect lives. We have all been impacted by stress, sadness, tragedy. As a group,  human beings are survivors. For me writing is about HOW I choose to survive. I don’t want to live my life feeling numb, shut down or closed off from the people around me and especially not from my husband and children.

I recently realized that I have some stories I am holding onto too tightly: stories around my relationship with my weight and my relationship with my mother. They are inextricably tied together and both are weighing me down. I need to write the stories and lay the feelings to rest so that I can move on. I will do this in private, on the pages of my journal; the blank page and my curious cat the only witnesses to the healing taking place. I don’t need to share this healing, although it may show up in a memoir or on this blog some day. For now, I turn to writing to heal myself. I don’t want to see the tears on my daughter’s self-portrait.

healing power of writing

Ways to give your writing healing powers:

  • Be gentle with yourself this week. Take some time to write in your journal and focus on what IS working in your life. It can be very healing to remember everything you have to be grateful for.
  • Practice writing parts of your story: who are you angry at? what sadness are you ready to release? What are you forgetting to honor or celebrate in your life? Write in short 15 minute spurts. If it feels too hard, shut the journal and walk away. Call a friend or hug your child. Bring yourself back to the present.
  • Remember that no one will read this but you. You journal is your safe place to write it all down and release the tension that may have been lingering for years. The healing can only happen if you allow it to.

This post ended up being more serious than intended. I also write because it is fun for me and I love exploring my relationship with myself and others. I often sit down to write and just allow whatever wants to come out, come out. Sometimes it surprises me. Thank you for listening and being here with me.

If you find that you want to share your stories and need a safe place to share, to grow and create a better vision for your life than what you are currently living, I have a 90-day coaching program just for you. I work with women who realize that they need to make changes in their life or their business but need a clearer roadmap to make that happen. The women I work with are creative, passionate and love serving others but aren’t doing a great job of serving themselves. Does this sound like you? Let’s talk.

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  1. Lianda on April 25, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    Your article brought out many thoughts for me. I love writing,and used to keep a journal. But I don’t like re-reading it. And in fact, I’m thinking about how I can make a request to have them burned without people reading them if I die..

    Stories are the most compelling form of communication between people. It’s how the most successful ads are written…. We love our books and movies…

    But the other part you talk about is where I come from: the stories we tell ourselves about who were are, why we are who were are…. I work with overweight women who have subconscious stories that are embedded in their subconscious, and keeping them overweight: literally “thick skinned” to protect themselves, and for other reasons.
    Thanks for your thought provoking post!

  2. The Great Gordino on April 25, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    Hi Minette.
    I’ve always loved writing, I find it a good way to express myself.
    When I suffered badly with depression (really badly!) it was suggested that I try writing my thoughts, to help.
    At the time I didn’t feel it was doing much good, I didn’t enjoy anything at that time, but in time I could see how it had been beneficial.
    Now I write both for business and pleasure reasons!
    Thanks for a thought provoking post!

  3. Vanessa Terrell on April 25, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    Great post! I’m not a writer, but I will consider doing this! Thanks for sharing!

    • minette on April 25, 2013 at 3:07 pm

      Hi Vanessa, there is a big difference for me between journaling and writing. When I journal, I don’t worry about grammar or if I am spelling words correctly, I just let it all pour out on the page! That makes it easier to allow the words to flow and release our inner critic.

  4. Amy on April 25, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    I love this. I write when I’m happy, I’m write when I’m frustrated, and I write when I’m upset. My worry is always that somebody will find my private journal that I pour all of this into (after I’m dead, even) and think I was just a real depressing person. The truth is, if I write it all down, I feel better and I don’t have to burden somebody else with it. I love your suggestions above!

    • minette on April 25, 2013 at 3:06 pm

      Thanks, Amy! I encourage you to burn, trash or otherwise destroy your healing journals! The healing part is in the writing, we don’t have to keep it. You are the second person to say this, may need to add something to the post about destroying our journals!

  5. Cher on April 25, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    so agree, I have been writing since i was a teeny thing (not much bigger now LOL) I had no- one to relate to while growing up, my pages were my therapy and got me through! I say write everything you feel , and let it go 🙂

    • minette on April 25, 2013 at 4:28 pm

      I agree Cher, you write it down and let it go! Our biggest challenges occur when we hold onto the past!

  6. Alana ( on April 25, 2013 at 5:21 pm

    Last November, I entered a writing “competition” called NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Goal: 50,000 words in 30 days – so there is no time to edit, no time to self-censor. What I did was write a fictional memoir as a healing process for a traumatic experience I had suffered in real life. All you report is the word count; you never have to do anything with the actual manuscript. I was surprised how much of a healing process it was. It worked!

    • minette on April 25, 2013 at 5:47 pm

      What a great way to participate in NaNoWriMo, hadn’t thought of that. Congrats on the writing and the healing, both are huge accomplishments!

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