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.
The 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.