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Expressive Writing FAQs
Why Write?Quite simply, language gives us the power to transcend our life experience and opens up the possibility for creating a new story.
You see, we are the stories we live by. The problem is that these stories often live in our subconscious, where they remain unseen and therefore have free reign to exert their power by directing our choices, filtering what and how we perceive, influencing how we interpret our experiences, and impact our mental and physical health.
In fact, there are some stories that are so powerful that they feel inescapable. It can feel like we are trapped in them, with the same themes repeating themselves over and over again throughout our lives.
The process of finding the words to describe the moments that impact us allows us to transcend these stories. When we write those words down, harnessing what was once just feelings and images and random flashes of thought and bring it into the material realm by putting the words on the page…well then now we can see the story. Once we can see it, we can do something with it. Once written, we not only have awareness.. we have choice. We can reclaim our story.
What we make of the story, what it means to us and what we want to do with that insight…that is a creative process. This is how we can become empowered to free ourselves from the patterns of the past and truly design our lives.
Is there any science to support the therapeutic benefits of Expressive Writing?Yes. Dr. James Pennebaker, the psychologist and foremost researcher on the effects of expressive and therapeutic writing has demonstrated over numerous studies that writing honestly about emotional turmoil has significant benefits for our emotional and physical health.
Will Expressive Writing Help Me to Become a Better Writer?Yes. Although not the primary reason for promoting expressive writing, writing in the way we practice here does connect you more deeply to your intuition and tends to stimulate creativity. I consider it a positive side effect of this practice we do here to facilitate inner healing and growth.
In fact, there is a long tradition of using expressive writing as a practice to stimulate creativity. The most well-known promoter of this practice is Julia Caldwell. She is a prolific screen writer who started a practice called “Morning Pages” which she has shared with millions around the world and is described in her seminal book “The Artist’s Way”. Interestingly, in addition to stimulating creativity, Ms. Caldwell and her students have also found that the pages have this ability to speak to their authors, telling them all that they need to change and do to heal, grow and improve their lives.
Do I Have to Be Good at Writing to Benefit from Expressive Writing?No. Absolutely not. This is not writing like you did in school. Expressive writing is for no one but yourself. In fact, we would encourage you to forget about grammar, sentence structure, spelling, legibility..all of it. This is not about making anything beautiful. It is about being in the flow. Truth and inspiration reside in the flow. Making corrections, crossing things out, even pausing will interfere with that flow. Just keep the writing going and allow the process to unfold.
Is it necessary to handwrite or is typing OK?This is a little controversial. The research will say that there really isn’t a significant difference in outcomes for those who handwrite vs. type.
BUT…. my recommendation to you is that you write by hand. Why? Because it is all about maintaining a sacred space for capturing a flow. There is nothing sacred about our devices. Besides constantly interrupting us, our devices are associated with work (paid or otherwise) and how we present to others. All of these associations run the risk of blocking us from accessing our truth.
Writing by hand on paper poses none of these challenges. Plus, it makes it a more wholistic experience, bringing together the mind, body and spirit. So, if you want my advice, drop the device, and write.
And if you have an impairment that prevents you from using your hands, use whatever means necessary that allows you to best capture the flow of your ideas.
I want to write but don't know what to write about? How can I get started?Just write. Set a timer for a set period of time, between 10-20 minutes, and just write without stopping. One of the easiest formats in which to write is to craft a letter.
Click on the link below for a handy set of prompts to help you get started.
And if you would like more prompts and support for your expressive writing practice, come and join us in the GFSS Community (click below), where you will not only find prompts, but also have the opportunity to connect with others who are engaged in this practice, join me, Dr. Stacy, live twice/week for my expressive writing practice, learn about special events and more… We look forward to meeting you there!