Expressing Yourself through Creative Writing to Heal

If you’ve been following my Monday Night Scribbles masterclasses and some of my recent blogs, you’ll see there’s been an emphasis on expressing yourself through creative writing to heal and using writing as a healing tool.

After a recent session with one of my The Book Writing Academy clients, it hit me that all creative or expressive writing is a healing form of expression on some level.

As for the healing, that comes from the writing, from living and writing. That’s my catharsis. That’s why I never regret sharing because it’s part of my healing!—Karrine Steffans (1978—).

flowers inside heart with hands for post expressing yourself through creative writing to heal

Creative Writing Defined

What is creative writing? It is a broad category that encompasses any type of writing outside of professional, journalistic, academic, or technical  writing. Creative writing typically emphasises narrative craft, character development, and figurative language. Creative writing isn’t confined to fiction. It can include poetry, nonfiction such as biography and memoir, short stories, and feature stories in journalism (as a side comment, I’d argue that much of the current journalism in mainstream media—if we choose to read it—is ‘creative’ because truth appears to have become subjective!).

Expressive Writing Defined

What is expressive writing? Expressive writing is a descriptive type of writing that delves into the thoughts, opinions, and emotions stemming from our experiences, memories, and trauma. We use it as a tool for processing our thoughts, feelings, and life events to achieve our own personal growth.

How Creative Writing Heals

Creative Outlet in a Stressful Career

Let’s look at the example of my client Jacob (a pseudonym to protect his anonymity). Jacob works in a highly stressful and demanding profession and works exceedingly long hours. Not only that, but he also has a family with its accompanying commitments.

Each week before our session, Jacob sends the c.3,000 words he’s written for me to review (this is included in the program). He turns up to our sessions on time, at 6 pm, eager, even if he’s had a 4.30 am start to his day and has only just arrived home from work. Sometimes, he’s still at the office when he logs on to Zoom.

What drives such determination?

Healing Pain

Jacob is writing a novel. He didn’t set out to heal any pain or issues in his life. Yet through his writing, the pain of his father’s perceived indifference towards him surprised him by coming through in one of his characters. It’s not something he planned; it’s something the writing brought up.

"As the number of studies increased, it became clear that writing was a far more powerful tool for healing than anyone had ever imagined"—James W. Pennebaker (1950—).

Imaginative Journeys

Jacob has his characters roaming places abroad that he’s visited, returning there in his imagination to relive the enjoyable experiences. Jacob recalls beloved aunts and their endearing quirks through some of the characters he creates, honouring these people from real life.

Writing Transports You

The writing transports him—takes him to a different place. At the weekends, Jacob takes himself off to the café down the road and loses himself in his writing for a couple of hours at a time. He tells me the writing just flows. When he sits down, he doesn’t know where the writing is going to take him, but it always takes him somewhere. Isn’t that just beautiful?

From our very first session (when I go through an exercise to help the writer formulate their chapter topics), Jacob could see where his story would be going.

At the end of each session, we discuss what chapter Jacob will be working on for the coming week and how I can support him. He tells me about his ideas for how the chapter will develop. When he actually sits down to write it, a slightly different outcome often results and it’s always even better than what he communicated to me.

Working with a writing coach to guide you on your writing to heal journey can be helpful. That's why I created my newest course Writing to Heal: Metamorphosis. If you're interested in exploring your own writing-to-heal journey, I would love to support you. Book a Discovery Call and we can have a chat about whether Metamorphosis would be the most supportive option for you.

The Creative Mind

The human mind is an infinite wonderland that is ingenious, imaginative, inventive, and inspired. Through creative writing, we tap into all of this and into previously unexplored regions of our psyche. In so doing, we can uncover our subconscious pain or trauma and begin to heal it.

What You Write Might Surprise You

Even if you’re writing what you may consider an emotionally neutral piece—perhaps a novel, or a family member’s memoir—your mind could take you in a totally unexpected direction. You could find yourself on a fascinating and wholly surprising journey, leading you on a path to healing past or present wounds.

Give it a go—I challenge you.

Photo Credit

Amy Shamblen Unsplash

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