Jade Lizzie

Sharing the yoga love

How to use writing as therapy

It’s said that everyone should be in therapy. I kind of agree with that. I think most of us get stuck in thought patterns, behaviours and habits that don’t always serve us well but can be difficult to unravel without help. Unfortunately I’m not in a position right now to have a therapist on hand, but along with yoga and meditation I have found something else that helps. Writing. And more specifically, writing as therapy.

I first came across the website “750 words” on January 23rd 2013. I can view my entry from this day, hence the uncharacteristic precision! The idea behind the website is explained fully here, but in short, the idea is that you log in every day and free write without censoring, editing or monitoring yourself at all.

Screenshot 2015-09-18 at 16.19.53

Although I discovered the website and liked it a few years ago, I didn’t really get into it until more recently. I’ve just completed my 100th day straight, and I love it. Here’s why I think writing as therapy is the way forward:

  • It helps you connect with what you’re thinking and how you’re feeling. I find it really useful as a daily check in with myself, working out why I’m feeling the way I am. As E.M Forster put it, “How do I know what I think until I see what I say?”
  • It’s a powerful decision-making tool. When you have a difficult decision to make it can overwhelm you. Writing things down and and weighing up your options in black and white is a good way to break out of circular though patterns in your mind.
  • It lets you analyse yourself. Once you’ve written your words, there’s a great geeky stats page to help with this reflective element of writing as therapy.
  • It lets you acknowledge and work through the thoughts you are having. Unlike meditation, where you try to notice your thoughts without engaging with them, sometimes it’s really good to actively follow the thought train to see where it ends up.
  • It’s great for creativity. I have so many ideas for future blogs, articles and poems while I’m writing my 750 words of brain splurge. Sometimes I even use the space there and then to begin drafting them.
  • It can be an opportunity to do some positive work on yourself. Sometimes I use it to note all the things I am grateful for, other times I might write positive manifestations about the way the rest of my day will go.
  • It’s fascinating to look back at your old entries because it gives you an insight into your changing mindset over time. For me it’s also been interesting to discover the things I avoid – for example realising that I knew the answer to a choice I’ve been trying to make this week on December 17th last year, but it’s taken me this long to act on it.

So I’ve completed a 100 day streak and got my phoenix badge for it (yes, they award badges for varying levels of commitment to your writing – genuine excitement about that!). What next? I’m actually going to let go of my insistence on writing everyday. I’m trying to stop living by checklists, so for the next week or two I’ll write as and when I want to write, not because I’ve told myself I have to. But I’m pretty sure I’ll continue to write most days anyway, because writing as therapy helps keep me sane (ish). And it’s far cheaper than a therapist…

If you give it a try let me know how you get on in the comments below.

Happy writing!

Jade xxx

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4 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing this website, Jade. I might try it! I too use writing as a form of “therapy” since it really helps me sort out my thoughts.

  2. I think yours is a good approach. I was also surprised by how much clarity does writing bring. Even when it is a bit random. It is great to check back at what I’ve written some time ago and have a better picture of my thought process. Meditation does something similar but from a different angle. With meditation I can “feel” my emotions and mental states more. They become more familiar and less scary. What I have found with meditation, though, is that if one does not really commits to put awareness into it then meditation might reinforce thoughts/emotional processes we have, because we might tend to put the wrong type of attention to them. In a way we might end up entertaining though processes, rather than liberating ourselves from them if we do not put the right attention. Did you experience something like that as well?

    • I know what you mean completely. I find particularly when I have something “on my mind”, meditation can be almost painful, because it’s so hard just to observe the thought patterns without getting embroiled in them. I still think the meditation practice is valuable, but I perhaps find writing more powerful for “writing them out” and moving through and past the blockage when I’m in that frame of mind. Great to get your take on this – thank so much for taking the time to comment 🙂

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