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.
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.