Friday, 15 May 2015

Why I Write


 1. I write to clear out the junk


Julia Cameron, in her book The Artists Way suggests that one of the most valuable creative tools we have at our disposal is morning pages.  Her advice is to write, long hand, 3 full pages first thing in the morning.  These pages are a stream of consciousness.  The morning pages are not written to be read.  They don’t have to be pretty.  They just have to be done.  It’s a way to clear out the junk before starting your day.

Confession:  I absolutely do NOT do this as a regular practice.  However at times I have made this a regular practice and it is an excellent addition to a daily morning routing.  I thoroughly recommend it.  Writing at any time of day, though, is cleansing.

2. I write to clarify and explore my feelings


It is often difficult to establish exactly what we think without putting it into words.  I see the struggle in my students when I teach writing – they don’t start writing until they know what they want to say.  I encourage them to just put the pen on the paper and begin as the act of writing itself will help them to figure out what it is they want to say.

Thoughts are far more flexible than text.  The ideas in our heads are part of a huge puzzle with uncountable connections – not linear like writing.  Through the act of writing we are better able to articulate, organize and understand what’s going on upstairs.

3. I write to heal and grow


Research by James Pennebaker (and other studies since) shows that writing about life’s stressors helps us to heal from both physical and emotional trauma.  Yes, the act of writing after a traumatic event can produce measurable changes in BOTH physical and mental health.  Emotional writing can also affect peoples sleep habits, work efficiency and how they connect with others.  

I find that writing can help me solve problems.  Writing frees my buried emotions and thoughts and releases them.

4. I write to manifest my dreams


Studies have shown that we are 42 percent more likely to achieve our goals if we write them down.  Writing down our goals of course isn’t the end, but it’s a great beginning.  More than just listing our goals, though, writing down our dreams aids in their manifestation.  The act of writing makes our innermost desires clear, brings attention to them, and gives them the thought and consideration needed to inspire action towards making those dreams a reality

5. I write to share


“Story telling is an act of love.  Sharing stories connects us to each other.  When I tell my story it connects to your story “ – Njoki McElroy, Teacher + Storyteller

It takes courage to tell our stories, in their entirety and in their truth.  It is easy for us to share our success stories.  And such stories are important.  But our stories of loss and failure and shame are far less easy to share, and these stories are powerful too.  The feeling of failure is a lonely, lonely place.  But when we reach out and share our stories we realize that we are not alone.  There is so much criticism and judgment in our world.  We are shamed into keeping quiet.  This makes it even more important for us to put our vulnerability on the line and open up.  Our stories won’t resonate with everyone, but they will resonate with someone.  And if we can make one person feel like they are not alone, then isn’t the story worth telling?

6. I write to reflect


John Dewey said “we do not learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on experience”.

What gets us from experience to understanding is reflection. Through self reflection we can develop our skills.  Rather than doing things the way we have always done them, reflection allows us to question our choices and our tools and make room for improvements.  It is very easy for us to become stuck in routines that don’t work for us.  Self reflection can help us to identify the changes we can make. I find that getting things down on paper (as opposed to letting them swim around in my head) makes it easier for my thoughts to marinate and simmer helping me identify problems or what is important.  This process is an important part of learning and personal growth.

7. I write to give


They say that actions speak louder than words.  And this is terribly true. But language is a beautiful gift. There is nothing more lovely than words that pour straight from your heart and into the heart of another.

(***An updated and improved version of this post can be found HERE on elephant journal!)

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