Writing to find myself

This post is written to link with an online discussion at katemotaung.com on the book “On Being A Writer” by Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig.  Today I’m posting on Chapter 8: Discover- When I write, I find myself.

Fish UnderwaterThe box of journals in the cupboard spanning over 20 years of my life is evidence of the fact that I have found writing therapeutic over the years.  In times when I’ve felt confused or unable to talk to anyone else, writing and prayer have always been what has helped me through.

Writing has a way of slowing down my racing mind and helping me to process my thoughts and feelings.  Looking back over old journal entries, I can see how, many times, as I sat down to write, I was uncertain about what to think or do in a situation, but the process of recording the confusion and exploring the possibilities somehow brought greater clarity and showed me the way ahead.

At other times, writing was a way to express things I couldn’t say out loud, things that I feared to say to anyone in case I was judged or rejected.  Somehow acknowledging them and being able to express them brought relief, even though no-one else would ever read it.  I think the process of putting my experiences and emotions into words helped to acknowledge them and bring them out into the open, even if it was only on a piece of paper.

I have also found that writing restores perspective- it cuts through the tangle of confused thoughts and emotions and reveals what I really believe underneath.  I see the same feature in some of David’s Psalms- for example, Psalm 13.  He begins in pain and anguish:  “How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?  How long will you hide your face from me?  How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?  How long will my enemy triumph over me?”  But once he has processed his pain, he ends the Psalm: “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.  I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.”  Some of my journal entries follow a similar course- beginning by expressing difficult thoughts and emotions, but eventually working their way round to hope in God.  Writing seems to let the pain out somehow so that it is possible to refocus and move on.

It is not only in the difficult times that I have found writing helpful.  I tend to journal as I read the Bible and I always find this slows me down, helps me process things on a deeper level and allows space for God to speak.  Even in the posts I’ve been writing as I work through this book, I am discovering more about myself.  Sometimes I have begun a post with an idea of where it is going, and by the time I have finished it has gone in a completely unexpected direction.  I am discovering that my love for writing is deeper than I realised and that it is something I want to share with others, and I also have greater clarity over my motivation for this and the topics I feel called to write about at the moment.

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19 thoughts on “Writing to find myself

  1. I’ve found writing particularly helpful in difficult times too. It’s where I can sort things out. God reveals to us in ways we can understand and for some of us, it’s through our own writing. How wonderful He knows us so!

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  2. I find writing about what I am reading scripturally really helps me apply the principles I study. You seem to find the same benefit. I am so glad to get to know your conviction about the benefit of writing.

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    1. Thanks, Gabriele. It definitely helps me a lot- I think it just slows me down and stops me getting distracted. I’m glad it helps you too.

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  3. I could really identify with what you said in your post. Journaling has helped me walk through more difficult situations than I can even remember. It also builds my faith for new problems, when I look back at what God has done in the past. It has definitely been therapeutic in my life.

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    1. That’s a great point that the writing doesn’t just help at the time but it is also encouraging as you look back and see how things have changed and remember what God has done.

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  4. Loved this line: “I think the process of putting my experiences and emotions into words helped to acknowledge them and bring them out into the open, even if it was only on a piece of paper.” So true for me too! And “How long Lord?” I’ve asked that question often but I never noticed the end of that Psalm. Thanks for pointing it out to me!

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  5. carly, i love how you were able to say so much in so few words. that is one gift i do NOT have! i had a horrible time cutting out words both today and on monday. i don’t know if it was the topics or what. i hope the next topics are easier to write about more succinctly.

    i love how you talked about writing slowing your brain down. it helps me in that way as well. also, when i write a post going one way and end up in a totally different place. i think that is amazing!

    your post was great:)

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    1. Thank you, Martha. Being concise is not something I’m good at either (as some of my other posts show) so I’m encouraged that you think I managed it here. I have been working on it. This post was one that came quickly and easily to me though, unlike some of the others.

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  6. My stack of past journals sit on the nightstand beside my bed. I cannot bear to part with them, even though I’m not sure what useful purpose they serve. I too begin writing with one direction in mind and by the time I sift it out it becomes something totally different. Your words really resonate with me today Carly

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    1. Thanks, Christy. I can’t bear to part with my journals either. It is encouraging though to look back at them from time to time and see what God has done and where things have changed.

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  7. Wonderful post. Loved how you wrote it, loved all the areas it touched upon. I also journal when I read my Bible, as it also helps me to understand and to internalise the teachings I find there. I also have a mound of journals with my journaling in them: isn’t it funny that so many of us turn to journaling as a way of finding relief/peace/silence/understanding….I know I definitely need to have that dialogue with myself before I can ‘get on with things’.

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    1. Thanks, Helen. It is funny how journalling seems to help so many of us but I suppose that is likely to be true in a writing group more than among people in general. It’s great to connect with so many people who understand because I think a lot of others I know would find it a bit strange.

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