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The Healing Power of Writing: How the Process of Writing Changes the Writer

What is it that makes us want to write? Is it for others to read our work and be moved or entertained or transformed? Is it simply to create, to be set free upon the page?

For me it is an internal urging, like someone whispering, or shouting, within me, through me – wanting air, wanting life, wanting expression.

Some could call it me, or my higher self, or Source. You might call it the Muse, or an angel whispering from beyond. Perhaps it is your own personality wanting to speak its truth. Whatever that voice is, it is there, and if you feel called to the page, you likely know what I am talking about.

There is a pressure that must be answered.

For me, writing is both a channel of expression and a process of discovering myself and my internal world. It is in the form that comes through, the words I use, and the very life injected and infused into the overt or nuanced meanings I choose (or that choose me) that serve as an opportunity to find out more about who I am, what my soul is calling for, and what my life is really about.

Life transitions are a rife place to use writing to heal. Writing can help us grieve, process, move through, label, unearth, discover and transform.

Writing can help us grieve, process, move through, label, unearth, discover and transform.

In my many transitions in life, I have turned to writing to help me process, reflect and move through those times. From the deaths of loved ones to all the heartbreaks to every job I left to go seeking for the next thing, I didn’t just write about it – I wrote through it.

And in writing, I healed myself. I got out the poison that was lurking, the unanswered questions, the answers that were waiting right there, behind my heart, appearing within the ink.

In these moments, it’s not about being perfect – its about being honest. It’s not about the usage of correct form or even the right words, because the form will appear as it needs to be and it will hold the words that need to be held up so that you can see them.

For those of us called to the pen, writing is a way of coming back to ourselves.

—  Nicole Justine Reid

For those of us called to the pen, writing is a way of coming back to ourselves. It’s a way of connecting the unseen dots that are swirling around inside of us. It’s a way of putting the pieces together and expressing what needs to be expressed.

Writing is, after all, expression. And expression is a form of creation. And creation – “the action or process of bringing something into existence” – inherently is intertwined with another process, the process of transmutation,“ the action of changing or the state of being changed into another form.”

When we create, we take an idea, an emotion, an experience, a material, and we put them together to make something new. In the case of writing, we take a pen and paper and our internal world and we make something new from that.

But while we are doing that, we are undergoing a state of change ourselves. As we connect the dots, have sudden realizations, fit and form concepts and experiences into new frameworks or take old ones out and let them breathe and be free to become something else, we shapeshift the energy inside of us.

And when we shapeshift our energy, we heal.

When we write, we are undergoing a state of change ourselves.

This process is a gift. It is a way to come to terms with who we have been, who we are now, and who we are becoming. It is a way to make sense of our world and the world around us.

For each of us, this writing may take a different form. It may be through poetry, journaling, storytelling for the screen, creating a novel or an article or essay. We may write about our emotions, or observations, from our personal experiences or pure imagination. In all of these instances, we are still creating from our internal worlds, because we are writing about the world as we see it, feel it, experience it. We are sharing our worldview. Each of these forms offers an opportunity to explore both something new and a new angle of ourselves, if we let it.

Any form of creative process has the same capacity. However, for me, writing has held more power for transmutation than any other form. I know this from how it feels to write, the expansion, magic and shapeshifting of energy inside of me that spills out into the rest of my life as a result. And I know it from the clear opposite –  the emptiness, the disassociation, the sinking despair I felt in all the times throughout the years that I stopped writing, disconnecting from this immense part of me that needs this expression.

Many times in my life I have left my creative self. I left her to become more “responsible,” more “adult,” more “logical and practical.”

Every time, she grieved.

She held the sadness in, collecting the words. And every time, when I eventually returned, the first stroke of ink on that beautiful sheet of white was a long held in breath just waiting to exhale.

Each time I come back to the pen, I come back to myself. And, in the process of writing, I am actually creating a new version of myself. A deeper, cleaner, more connected, less tangled version of myself.

In the process writing, I am actually creating a new version of myself.

—  Nicole Justine Reid

It’s funny (not really – it’s bizarre and sad) how we can do this to ourselves. We claim ourselves on the page, feel alive and free. Perhaps some of us dream about being a “writer,” about the books we’ll hold with our name on them, our poems that will be read aloud to audiences without us even being there; how our words will move those in the room. The articles we craft that will open another’s eyes. The words we will write that other hearts will absorb in the hope that it will shift another’s soul.

But, while we may want others to read our work, is this what really motivates us? Perhaps they will be transformed, this is a hope, and it often comes true, at least in some readers. But when we ask the deepest part of ourselves what our yearning is, is this what makes us pick up the pen?

While we want to express what is being urged within us, are we writing just because we wish to create? To set our imagination free, and be delighted in whatever comes forth? Yes, this is a joy, and of course one that should be acknowledged and celebrated. But is this the main calling, or a parallel process? Is it what we are creating or is it what is created in us that calls us forth?

When the urge to express sweeps within you, it can be revealing to take these moments to ask yourself, what makes me want to write? The answer can be the very driving force that carries you through your project and out to the other side of yourself.

What exactly is the pressure?

For me, the pressure is the transformation that is waiting to unfold. The new self that is wanting to burst forth. But she needs a way to get there, and for me, she does this through the creative process. And more specifically – through writing.

What happens in your life that motivates you to pick up the pen? What inspires you? What needs digging out of you? What needs healing? What needs observing and commenting on? Are you a voice for the voiceless? Are you a voice for yourself, to yourself, and when you write, we can all read along and learn?

Our inner writers are simply our inner humans struggling with something that needs sorting out, examining, clarifying, and celebrating, and sometimes, we could really use some honest words to bring us back to ourselves.

An even deeper layer of ourselves.

So, when you write, give yourself to the deep discovery. Allow the transmutation that wants to happens. Open yourself to the healing power that writing offers you.

And when you read it back to yourself, be delighted by what you have written, by what – in essence – you have untangled or connected within yourself.

And then notice what has emerged within you.

Who are you now?

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