There are lots of benefits of writing down the things that are inside of us, but there are some that have the capability of transporting you to a whole new way of living in the world. These are the life-giving aspects of writing that I’m most interested in.
“There are many good reasons for writing that have nothing to do with being published. Writing is a powerful search mechanism, and one of its satisfactions is that it allows you to come to terms with your life narrative. It also allows you to work through some of life’s hardest knocks—loss, grief, illness, addiction, disappointment, failure—and to find understanding and solace.” – William Zinsser’s “How to Write a Memoir”
A growing body of literature has demonstrated the beneficial effects that writing about traumatic or stressful events has on both short-term and long-term physical and emotional health. I can personally attest to the life-giving benefits of writing down what otherwise would have brought me down.
I write because I live. Writing lights me up, that is to say, it wakes me up to a fuller experience of being alive. I don’t write to judge; I don’t change the world into words because I wish to label things. The words are secondary. I write to understand–that is my primary intention.
I write to feel alive, wholeheartedly, and that intention and experience has formed the basis for every one of the benefits of writing that I’m about to mention.
The benefits of writing are clear to me, but some I can’t even put a name to. It’s really not about naming everything, anyway. There are some things that escape words, that can’t be named, but can only be pointed to, like a sign pointing to a place.
Writing isn’t about putting life into words, after all; it’s about living between them.
5 Benefits of Writing That Make Life Richer
1. Writing is a way to get out of your own way.
Writing heightens my awareness of who I really am, who I can and must be, and so it better enables me to become that better, truer version of myself.
In a recent study conducted at Dominican University, it was found that writing down one’s goals enhances goal achievement. Those who wrote their goals accomplished significantly more than those who did not write their goals.
Writing down your goals is a tool for stepping beyond your fear and reaching for your dreams. In other words, it’s a way to get out of your own way, and you can empower yourself in any and every area of your life by using this tool.
We can’t know for sure what will come of the thoughts we think, but we can greatly enhance our impact on the world by putting those thoughts–the ones we want to come to fruition–on paper.
2. Writing helps you overcome what’s overcome you.
It’s no news that writing is an antidote to stress. It’s a time-honored path to discovering the root cause of one’s own suffering, and journeying toward healing.
Whether we struggle with the disbelief that things will ever get better (hopelessness) or that what we don’t want to happen is bound to happen (worry), we can ease our painful feelings by writing them down. We can also write down what we believe to be the cause of those feelings, along with potential ways to improve our life situation.
All my writing here is a self-soothing process, a search mechanism for solace. What you’re reading right now is a prime example of how a person can overcome, one day at a time, the painful experiences that very well could have taken over their life.
Sometimes writing is very much about going beyond your barriers to possibilities.
3. Writing helps you make sense of yourself.
My boyfriend told me once that he enjoyed reading what I had written for one very good reason: he gets to see how my mind works. It’s important to remember, though, that your writing doesn’t need to be public in order to be helpful.
Like William Zinsser mentioned, “There are many good reasons for writing that have nothing to do with being published.” In the same way someone else reading your writing is offered a glimpse of your mind, you can benefit from a lesson in perspective, by seeing what’s really going on inside of you.
Ruminating about countless things is constricting, whereas writing those things down is eye-opening. There’s a healing quality to writing, even when it’s about painful topics, because we’re becoming conscious, aware. Incessant (and often unconscious) thinking, on the other hand, tends to lead us down a self-destructive path.
Writing offers a more fruitful approach to understanding your emotions and finding meaning in your experiences.
Basically, writing helps you make sense of yourself–your patterns, your fears, your priorities–so you can rise above what you find and get into a conscious place where you can choose what to do now, and where to go from here.
4. Writing empowers what matters most to you.
When something wonderful has happened, how long does it take for you to take it for granted, or to forget about it altogether? It’s a busy and fast world, and it doesn’t take that long to get used to certain things, especially our blessings.
Because of my gratitude journal, I am consciously looking for things to highlight and praise. I started this journal to buffer negativity (which is all too common) and open my eyes to the beauty in the small places, the joy in the little things.
What really, really matters to you in this lifetime? What are your priorities? What do you want to focus on, and how do you want to live?
Writing is the way I empower my priorities and magnify what matters to me; every time I put my vision into words, I become more mindful of that vision in daily life. Just the same, you will become more mindful of the things you write down.
It’s not so much what is written that matters; the process of writing it is what heals. The process is the awakening.
5. Writing unites spirit and body.
I write to understand my own mind, to rise above it, to embrace this step in the journey, to highlight what’s really important, to forgive my past, to get out of my own way, and to hopefully elevate others in the process.
My writing is only able to deliver the above benefits because it keeps me in communication with my whole self.
Writing, for me and for many others, can often feel like a process of channeling information from somewhere else. It’s as though the words streaming through me are not from my mind; it’s almost as if inspiration asked for my help in making its message manifest, and I accepted the offer, like any good apprentice would.
I can confidently say that my best writing is not mine. I am merely a channel for the words to make their way into the world.
The spiritual essence of writing is what gives the writing more than one meaning. That might be why certain poetry is so universally admired: one line can be viewed from many angles, and so it speaks directly to many different readers. This brings people, who are often viewed as more different than alike, together.
Writing is a pathway to unity of body and spirit, mind and inspiration, “them” and “me.”
There’s something about sitting down and writing what’s inside, so that it may come outside, that’s beyond logic; there’s mystery to it, and it needn’t be explained, just admired. I do enjoy how Emily Dickinson put it, though: “If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.”
Please share your thoughts, your love for writing or reading, powerful life lessons, and any helpful practices that keep you smiling with me in the comments.
Share these benefits of writing with someone who will understand.
Your life isn’t encapsulated (and you are not defined) by situations, events, trauma, or anything else that happens to you. Live in the space in between it all; that’s where you’ll find life.
Free paper texture by Lost and Taken; lettering by Aim Happy.