Writing: one of the great hidden resources we have to enhance our wellbeing. Not a lot of people know how good writing can be for you. More than twenty years of studies have shown that people who write visit their doctor less, get fewer colds and have improved immune system functioning among a lot of other good outcomes.
And the great thing about writing is that it’s always there. You don’t have to leave home. You don’t have to buy expensive equipement or learn a complicated routine. All you need is your pen and some paper. With those trusty friends in your corner, you can explore why you can’t make up your mind about something, figure out why you feel confused at your own behaviour, write about how much you miss your best friend.
So you don’t see yourself as a writer? Or you can’t spell for toffee? Or maybe you always felt that you were terrible at English in school? None of that matters. This writing is just for you. Grammar and spelling are not important here. You don’t even need to write in sentences. If you can read it, that’s all that matters. It’s all yours, this world of writing …to explore, dive into and luxuriate in, pull over you like an old comfort blanket, come back to when you feel abandoned, lost, exhilarated, sad, mixed up.
The how and when of writing
- For people who would like to explore the beneficial effects of writing for themselves, here are some tips:
- Honour the importance of writing in your life by getting yourself a nice notebook and pen which will be used just for this writing.
- Pick somewhere that you like to write. It might be a quiet study area or it might be the kitchen table. It could also be on the bus or train going to work if that is the place you are most likely to get some time for yourself.
- Discover the way you like to write. Some people like the comforting rhythm of writing for a little while every day. If that suits, then pick a time. Early morning before everyone else gets up can be wonderful if you’re a morning person. Or you may be someone who writes now and again, maybe writing for longer when you do get down to it. You’ll soon discover a pattern that suits you.
- If you decide to begin writing, then do just that. Your writing time is not for catching up with Face Book or filling the washing machine . Writing time is just that.
How to Freewrite
Pick up your pen, open the page and write for as long as it takes, as many pages as you want. Free writing is the kind of writing where you don’t worry about spelling, grammer,even making proper sentences. You just write for perhaps a given number of pages or a set time or for as long as you feel like.
Write without paying attention to what you’re writing; to get into the flow of the writing so that you are submerged in it, your internal censor or the critical voice inside you gets switched off and its just you and the empty page and your hand scribbling across it.
You may even decide you’re not going to read it back, even to yourself. It can be very interesting to read it but it can also be good to just write and maybe tear it up at the end.
The point is really that this type of free writing means having space and time to get lost in your writing self; not stopping to think how you’re shaping the words or sentences; not worrying about how it looks or sounds…just writing, as fast as you can. Its like mindfulness with a pen and paper. The conscious self that might stop you in your tracks, the cirtical voice that might tell you that what youre writing makes no sense, this voice gets switched off.
No one else will ever read what you have written. So spelling isn’t a big deal, neither is grammar or sentence construction. This is your world and there are no rules when it comes to free writing …it’s free, over the counter, no prescription and the really surprising thing is that it’s good for you too.
At all of those points in life when you can’t think of anything else to do, picking up a pen and writing things down can change everything. But beyond free writing or journalling there is so much more to the world of writing for wellbeing.
There are all kinds of other methods that help to access what Yeats called the “rag and bone shop of the heart”. Writing therapists have used shells, stones, buttons, pieces of fabric, empty boxes and other containers, as well as metaphors, imagery, unsent letters to facilitate writing. There is no emphasis here on honing the craft of writing. In writing for wellbeing its all about the process of writing not so much emphasis on producing something wonderful though people often find that they do.