It is sometimes impossible to be objective about our feelings when we are in the thick of experiencing them. By putting them down on paper, we are turning our feelings into something tangible, something physical, and that can make accepting them or understanding them so much more manageable.
Writing is a powerful tool because it allows you to open up a dialogue with yourself, without straying into the realms of anxiety or obsessiveness. Many professionals recommend journaling as a self-improvement exercise, and there is certainly a lot of merit to that proposition.
Journaling is a deeply personal journey that helps us explore and dissect our feelings and emotions.
After journaling, the next step toward self-improvement should be dipping your toes into the sometimes intimidating world of creative writing. Many people dismiss the idea of writing poetry or fiction because it might be too challenging, or ‘not their thing,’ or a waste of time, but in order to unlock the true therapeutic potential of writing, you should start exploring mediums like poetry or fiction.
Creative writing can help enrich our relationship with the people and world around us.
Of course, there is a huge difference between writing for self-improvement and therapy, and writing creatively to produce a work of art. Even a novice writer can reap the benefits of poetry – simply by exercising your mind in an unfamiliar way, or by approaching ideas and problems from a totally new angle. And if you hate your poem, feel free to burn it! Nobody ever has to see it.
In many ways, the blank page is like your first trip to see a therapist.
It is right there, in front of you, waiting to absorb all of your inner thoughts and concerns, both positive and negative. The blank page will never judge you or try to fix you. It will never impose its own beliefs or opinions on you. Plus, it won’t charge you 100$ for an hour-long session.
Putting your thoughts and problems onto the page allows you to explore them from a different angle. We all know the difficult sensation of helplessness that appears when, no matter how much we think about a problem, we can’t seem to move any closer to a solution.
The blank page, and whatever you fill with it, is a manifestation of your self.
By writing, you are empowering yourself to explore every corner of your mind, perhaps even things that might be challenging to think about under normal circumstances. Writing can help you deal with difficult or traumatic events, or perhaps help you find new or hidden meanings in events that previously seemed unimportant to you.
In essence, writing is an easy way to think about your problems and issues, while remaining totally in control of them, which is important since lack of control can be difficult for many people to grapple with. You are the one deciding what makes its way onto the page, how relevant or illuminating those words might be, and whether anyone else will ever get to see then.
Reclaiming control over your thoughts by writing them down is an extremely rewarding experience!
Literature and poetry can really help us understand many common social problems and anxieties that might be impacting us. By practicing writing, you might find that you have a new and more profound appreciation for novels and poetry. Remember, if you have felt or thought something, then somebody else has probably already written about it! There is an almost unlimited wealth of books and articles circulating in the world, just waiting to be explored.
There is also something to be said for the social aspect of sharing and workshopping your writing. For some, the idea of sharing creative writing might seem ridiculous and scary. However, amazingly authentic bonds can be created between people who are willing to share their own writing and engage with the work of others. These experiences can be similar to group therapy, where important and complicated issues might be discussed, or alternatively, they can be great opportunities to learn how to better take and give criticism, and to work with people from different walks of life. In most cities, there are open writing circles that are happy to accept new members.
Journaling and creative writing are both valuable tools, and one is not better or more useful than the other.
In fact, a combination of the two is probably ideal. For example, a journal can be used to empty out a deluge of ideas onto the page. Stream-of-consciousness writing is a very powerful tool because it allows you to break down those mental walls that may have been put up in your mind to block out difficult thoughts. In that sense, journaling is very therapeutic in its own right.
That stream-of-consciousness can then be further explored, and transformed, with practice, into beautiful lines of poetry or fiction. This process of transformation will allow you to see your thoughts and visions in a spectacular new light, and can be one of the most healing, inspiring, and peaceful experiences we can possibly hope to have.