For years I’ve found the process of putting pen to paper therapeutic. Whether it was writing about my grade school crush, high school woes, college flubs, or entrepreneurial struggles, the practice rarely disappoints. I’ve been able to recognize patterns, feel heard without concern of it being shared, and process confusing emotions.
And I only need two tools: pen and paper.
I’m rarely found without both and often tote more—various pens, an ideas book, Daybook, and, occasionally, an art journal. This might help explain the big, heavy bag that’s carried on my right shoulder over a repaired rotator cuff. Hmmmm.
Studies show that writing can strengthen immune cells, clarify thoughts and feelings, increase self-awareness, reduce stress, decrease PTSD symptoms, and help with problem solving. Or serve as an outlet for confessing your eight-year-old self’s crush which is how my writing launched. I believe it was Ralph Macchio of The Karate Kid.
Years ago I came across an article stating how a notebook could serve as an inexpensive therapist and encouraging a regular practice. While I don’t recommend substituting a notebook for therapy, I do believe writing can serve as a helpful tool in between sessions, in session, or even if you’re not seeing a therapist.
Capturing triggers (what was it that sent me spiraling?), observing thoughts (I notice I’m complaining about that same thing . . . again), and venting in a notebook provides a safe space to explore what is happening in our lives. My favorite prompt when I sit down to write is “I am feeling . . . “. It’s always different and often gets to the core.
While I’m not touting it as a cure-all, I do believe writing is a powerful tool for better self-understanding, creative expression, and healing. Some start their days with Morning Pages (Julia Cameron’s suggested three longhand pages), others end their days with reflection, and many turn to the page, as needed.
There’s no right way. It only matters that we carve out a few minutes regularly to notice what’s percolating beneath the surface and ready to be heard. It’s like peeling the layers off an onion. A process. Sometimes tear-filled. And often rewarding. Happy writing. Bisous. x
P. S. Do you have a favorite prompt that gets your hand moving? If so, please share it in the comments below.