Write it Out

authenticity change experience expression writing Jan 16, 2024
Blog post: Write it Out

What is it about writing that is so good for the mind and the soul? You don’t have to be  Don DeLillo or Cormack McCarthy. It’s not necessary to be Hemingway or Steinbeck to reap the benefit. In good times and bad, your experience of life is enriched when you “write it out.”

You can write short stories or poems or full novels; as someone once said, “All writing is biographical.” One of the most therapeutic and clarifying forms of writing is the humble journal. Long form or short snippets, for an audience of millions or just for you, the magic lies in the writing, not the reception of the work.

Why Does it Work?

When we write, we are forced to clarify our thoughts enough to express them in words. This helps sharpen what it is we are trying to convey, what is important about our message. It is easy to ramble when speaking, to make questionable connections and never quite get to the point. It is also possible to ramble when writing, but less likely when we take the time to construct intelligent (and intelligible) sentences and paragraphs.

The second reason writing helps clarify thought is the fact that most of us write or type much more slowly than we think. The fact that we slow down in our expression acts as a kind of meditation. We have more time to reflect on our words: is that really what we meant to say? Is there more to our thoughts than we first realized? In may cases, you may find yourself revising your initial message as your thought become more lucid.

Lastly, the written word has more impact than does a hastily uttered phrase. When we see our thoughts in writing, we have a chance to step back from the matter at hand and ask: “Is that true?” When we see our words in black and white (or whatever the color of your favorite pen), we can edit our trains of thought to be more accurate and maybe even call BS on some of our presuppositions and conditioning.

Extra Credit

And there is a fourth, post-hoc benefit to writing out our mental gyrations. After we initially document our thoughts - sometimes years or decades later - it is illuminating to look back. When we re-read our journals, it serves as a way to step back in time. From there, we can assess our progress or lack thereof. Have our lives become better or worse? Are we better at dealing with the travails of life than we once were? Are we moving in the mental, spiritual and emotional directions we intended, or have we lost our way. And if so, how so?

Once we see the direction and causes, we can do more of the good stuff and less of that which lessens us.

Get it Out There

Much of what we do, when we pay attention, moves us forward. Our actions serve a purpose - our purpose - and give meaning to our existence. We might find that we have a better job, more money, more security, better relationships than we once did. More peace. Our past thoughts may have become actions that have brought us to a better place, even if they seemed insurmountable at the time.

These are the journal entries that bring us joy to record: “Hell yeah! I did it right!” People love a success story, so you might even consider publishing these gems of life done well. It is worth being vulnerable to perhaps inspire someone now in the place that you used to be.

It is important to consider the things that went well for you and then write them out into the world for others’ inspiration.

Get it Out of You

Equally important are the times that we blew it and suffered the consequences. One reason we make mistakes that end up being more expensive than we could imagine is that we simply weren’t paying attention. We can reasonably expect a crash when we drive with closed eyes.

This is an error of omission: we did nothing intentionally out of line, but we also failed to consider - or didn’t have enough life experience to see - where the trail of our actions would inevitably lead.

Another reason we may find ourselves crashed in the ditch of life’s highway is that we acted for the wrong reasons. Anger, jealousy, envy and greed are poor motivators for our decisions. This an act of commission, but we may still have not “known better” if it was our first time acting on a negative thought.

Omission or commission, ignorance or obstinance, these are (or should be!) learning experiences. There is an old saying that when act, we either win or we learn. If you can be brave enough to admit your miscalculations - first to yourself, in your journal, then perhaps to others - you may save someone else the same pain. Consider publishing your folly as well as your fortune for the benefit of others.

Write it Out

Writing - even just your own journaling - can be useful to clarify your thoughts, consider the veracity of your opinions and actions, judge your progress over time and even aid people who may be on similar journeys.

Whether you write it out for others to see and celebrate, or write it out of you to purge yourself of bad decisions as a cautionary tale, write, if even for yourself.

If you journal, keep it up and take time to re-read some of your own stories. If you don’t write, consider giving it a shot. You have nothing to lose except your unwillingness to self-examine, and you may gain insight into who you are and how you think.

I am a creator (musician, writer, live-streamer and podcaster), entrepreneur, educator and counselor. 

To learn more about how to use these concepts or to inquire about working with me, you can contact me through my website, the comments section on my Substack or Medium accounts or The Authentic Life Blog page. If you have found value in this article, consider following my Instagram and X (formerly Twitter) accounts. To support this community, you can even Buy Me A Coffee or donate through my Patreon account.

 Subscribe to my River of Creation podcast - The Podcast for Creators, and my associated YouTube channel, coming later this year wherever you download your podcasts.


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