You don’t have to be a writer to write, just as you don’t have to be a Tour de France cyclist to ride a bike. Everyone has a story to tell. Our unique journeys on this planet are interesting tales of twists and turns filled with surprises, disappointment, heartache and joy. For those of us that keep journals or diaries, we can reflect on our past and take notes on our present, while making goals for the future. But if you’ve never put pen to paper, besides groceries lists or work emails, for fear of what might or might not come out, you are denying yourself the story of your soul.
Why is writing good for us?
Let’s start with the mental health benefits. If you don’t want to see a therapist, and you can’t share your thoughts with friends or family, writing to yourself can help you clear your head, process your pain, and heal your spirit. Not only is the act of writing good for your emotional well being, it is also good for your brain. The activity creates a state similar to meditation, and your concentration increases which can help you to focus more on the details in your daily life.
Once you start paying attention to details, such as listening to someone when they speak, or observing something in the natural world like a sunset, your awareness is enhanced and just thinking about how you wish to document these encounters in your journal makes each experience richer. If you hear a child say something funny, write it down. If you see something that grabs your attention during the day, document it. It’s similar to taking photos on your smart phone, capturing moments of your life, but the act of writing goes deeper than that.
This leads us to preservation. We take photos and write things down to remember. We want to preserve memories in order to share with others, to connect on a deeper level with others. If we don’t document our experiences, we fear they may be forgotten. Yes a photo is worth a thousand words, but if you write down the details of that dinner that you posted on Instagram or Facebook, how it tasted on your tongue, what the conversation at the table dealt with, what song was playing on the sound system, then you can capture more of the magic of that moment and what it really meant to you on a deeper level. Maybe that meal reminded you of your mother’s cooking, or a first date with an old flame. Maybe the colors on the plate sparked a connection to another memory that only writing more about it will reveal, something hidden in your subconscious.
Sometimes we just want to write to connect with others. We wish to share stories or entertain our friends. A great reason for writing our thoughts and experiences is to share a slice of our life with the next generation. If you don’t want to write about yourself, interview an elder in your family or community and save it for someone to read one day. Sharing those stories is a gift. Each one reveals a lesson that may help and heal another individual. Think of all the memoirs or biographies you’ve read and how you may have been inspired by other people’s journeys, the obstacles they faced and overcame, their depiction of both the simplistic to the extraordinary.
When you were a child you most likely told tall tales. You made up stories from your imagination. Why? Because it was fun. And you were imagining an alternate reality for yourself. You can still do that writing as an adult. You can reignite your creativity and imagination by writing a new ending to the story of your soul. You probably didn’t think you were setting goals as a kid by making up stories about being a fireman or astronaut. But by writing down things you envision for yourself, like getting that dream job, or marrying your soul mate, you can bring it into existence, because it’s the same as setting goals or making a to-do list. Write the story of your life that you’d like to be living, as if it was a screenplay, and you have the starring role. We create what we focus on. If you don’t like your life right now, then write a new ending. Imagine the best scenario. Anything is possible.
When you write, don’t judge, don’t edit, don’t criticize. You don’t have to publish your thoughts with the goal of being a best selling author. You don’t even have to share them with anyone if they are meant for self healing and unloading negativity. You can burn your notes afterwards if you wish in a ritual to release what no longer serves your higher purpose. Just begin writing to further understand yourself, to reflect on your journey so far and the lessons you have learned or have yet to learn. Just begin, as if getting on a bicycle again for a bit of fresh air and exercise because you know it’s good for you. Your soul will thank you from the bottom of your heart.