Writing is essentially becoming free. It all begins with a word. -Victoria Erickson-
There is study after study, spanning all the way back to the 1970s, which show that writing down your feelings, experiences, and problems can help improve your health, both mentally and physically. Expressive Writing can be an incredible tool for survivors of childhood sexual abuse.
Expressive Writing is just that – expressing yourself. You can write about anything, just put down the thoughts in your head and see where they lead you.
Try it for yourself by looking at the seven suggestions below and see if it works for you.
1. Find a place that is free of distractions.
You don’t need to sequester yourself for hours on end, just find a quiet corner where you’ll have 10 or 15 minutes to yourself.
2. Write continuously.
This is called stream-of-conscious writing or free-writing. You write down thoughts as they come, without judgement. You keep writing, even if you feel like you have nothing to write about. Just keep writing until your 10 or 15 minutes are up.
3. Don’t worry about readability.
Your spelling, grammar, sentence structure, etc. are all unimportant in this type of exercise. If your high school English teacher’s voice keeps coming into your head and scolding your comma splice, shut it out and keep writing.
4. Write for yourself.
If you write for anyone but yourself, it can change the way you write. You may unintentionally censor your feelings or steer thoughts into a different direction if you’re worried about someone else reading it. Some people even find it cathartic to destroy the writing after they’re finished. If that makes you feel more safe in your writing, consider doing that.
5. Monitor your feelings.
Keep tabs on how you’re feeling, especially if you’re writing about things that could be potentially triggering. If you notice a feeling come up, it may help to address it in your writing and continue, or stop completely, as you feel is necessary.
6. Use all your senses.
Try to bring in every sense as you write. This will both give you more to write about, and allow you to access parts of your brain, thoughts, and memories that may only be brought to mind by considering your specific senses.
7. Only do what you can handle.
This can be a difficult exercise. You may reach your limits of bravery by only writing one sentence about what happened. That’s still good! There is no right or wrong way to practice Expressive Writing. Do what you can and celebrate yourself for it.
It can help to write about things. Expressive Writing, especially, can be a powerful tool to use on your healing journey. Try it out and see if it’s “write” for you!