I always wanted to journal, but I had great difficulty keeping up the habit. I would find myself writing journals only to give it up days later. If I was going to journal, I wanted a complete and accurate picture of my day-to-day life. It had to be perfect. All or nothing. If I stopped journaling and came back to in days, months, or years later I would rip the old page out. Now, I’ve come to appreciate many other forms of writing that are better suited for my needs.
Writing is a really great way to get what’s inside out. However, if I find it difficult to write then I’m usually trying to force myself to write something I don’t feel like writing. I use writing for multiple reasons and typically I feel happy, joyful, pleased, proud, relieved, or peaceful—positive emotions. If I force myself to write, I’ll leave feeling frustrated or tired which is fine, but not for selfcare purposes. Below are some ways to write that I’ve found helpful.
For a while I would make a new affirmation everyday and I would hang it on my wall. Each morning, for about a month, I would go to the wall and say my affirmations 15 times over. In this season of my life it really helped ground my anxiety and helped me believe in myself.
I do this practice often and it is one of the things I turn to when I’ve become more negative. I make a list of 20 things I’m grateful for. I love doing 20 items because it forces me to look at the very smallest things in my life. I leave feeling calmer if not happier.
Letters to a Higher Power
If I’m having a difficult season of life, I will write a letter to my Higher Power. Usually it’s a deeply personal letter. I pour everything out, everything I’m feeling, everything I’m scared of—everything. It’s often very cringy emotions and when I look back at the letter, I’m embarrassed by what I’ve written, but that’s okay. Sometimes I ask for help or strength in these letters. It is a deeply personal letter that is not meant to be seen by others, so I can be as truthful as I’m ready to be.
Letters to Others
I’ve written letters to people who have frustrated me. It’s silly, but it’s usually someone on Facebook. For example, once someone posted about “white trash.” This really upset me because I don’t think calling anyone trash is an empathetic or kind practice. People often live up to our expectations and I try to choose my words carefully. Writing a letter to this person, which I did not send, really helped me get my frustration out.
Short stories can be really fun to write, but they can also help us take a step back. Sometimes it’s easier to write a short story about a character who is experiencing similar problems or emotions than it is to write about the issues.
Essays / Articles
Recently I wrote an Article for The Bark about my dog, Bertie. The article can be found here: https://thebark.com/content/16-pounds-fury-and-love . I felt incredibly accomplished getting an article published on a different site other than my own. I find myself writing essays about all different topics such as integrity, dignity, self-worth, all sorts of stuff. These really help me better understand myself and give me a clear idea of my values.
Who doesn’t love a good children’s book? So why not write one. While going through the remothering process it’s really important to read and watch movies about motherhood. Sometimes I even read a parenting book to help fill in some of my gaps. I’ve found that writing children’s literature achieves the same thing. It’s a very healing cathartic process that helps me stay in touch with myself. If you’d like to know more about remothering I have two posts on it: https://betterbertie.com/category/uncategorized/therapy/.
I have a close friend who writes haikus about food. Here’s an example of his work:
I won’t hug my eggs.
Coffee gets no affection.
Yet still I French toast.
He posts them on reddit (https://www.reddit.com/user/Wearthewildthingsout/) and seems to get a lot of joy out of them. Writing can be about shifting our mood from a negative mood to something more positive and if poems help you do that, heck, then write a food haiku.
I write standup in my head while I walk and when I get home, I’ll write it down. It helps me see the humor in situations and it’s a fun writing tool.
Sometimes on days when things aren’t going well, I write a quick little prayer. This helps me recenter myself and I can come back to it throughout the day.
All of these serve the same purpose. They help me better understand myself. Although I admire those who journal, I do not get enjoyment or satisfaction out of it. Obviously, that argument can be made that if I stuck with the habit eventually something more would come of it. However, that argument can be made about a lot of things and journaling isn’t where my heart is. Good news, I have lots of others forms of writing I love!