If you’re new to Post-Traumatic Grace, welcome. I hope you’ll find this place to be a source of empathy, encouragement, emotional rest, and recovery.
If you’re not new here, but haven’t heard from me for a while, don’t worry. It’s not you, it’s me. Ever since I finished my drafts and edits for my upcoming book, Every Little Thing: a memoir, I’ve been having a hard time disciplining myself to sit down and write anything, even a social post, let alone a full text article. Nevertheless, the call of my heart remains – to help women of faith look forward with faith and conviction and backward with grace and gratitude.
In my previous posts about writing your story, FEARLESS: Writing and Rewriting Your Story , I focused on the therapeutic benefits of journaling. Allowing our difficult or even wonderful emotions and reactions to become words written on a page is a safe, secure way to explore them confidentially. Writing, and not just thinking, about trying circumstances or relationship frustrations enables us to dig deeper into the connection between the triggering event or circumstance, to go beyond labeling the emotion we’re feeling with a name (grief, anger, sadness, loss, etc.). As a child I learned about my own emotions and reactions and asked hard questions about difficult relationships and what my motivations were leading me to.
If you don’t have fifteen or twenty years of journal entries from your childhood just sitting in a box somewhere – and I think most people probably don’t — you can still reap the benefits of journaling. There is no age limit for self-reflection. In fact, one of the benefits of putting your thoughts and feelings on paper (or on your computer, or in the cloud somewhere) Is that you can write whatever you want. You don’t have to write a journal entry about the time a cute boy at school said something mean to you, or how your high school math teacher made you feel, or that thing your best friend’s grandma said that triggered you. You can write about these things, but you don’t have to. Although, depending on how strong your feelings are about an event, you may consider writing about it just to process some emotional pain.
If writing about your own thoughts and feelings in the moment is new to you, you may be wondering how to start. Rest assured; there is no wrong way to journal your story. The amount of time you write, the environment you write in, and what you write are not important, especially when you’re just getting started for the first time. The first step is simply this — start writing.
I’ve been dealing with a lot of task avoidance myself lately; writing here was only one of the jobs I put off to rest my brain from the mental load. But, while avoiding something is OK for a little while, I realized that by procrastinating my mental load actually grew. Procrastinating turned to scolding myself for my lack of discipline or exploring ideas for the future while trying to ignore the things I’m doing right now. Writing it down, for some reason, makes a task more real and more urgent. The point is, don’t worry about the how until after you get started. You may find that your writing and your words flow by instinct.
If that’s not the case for you, it’s no big deal. If you’re looking at a blank page, start by finding a quiet place without interruptions first. It doesn’t have to be perfectly quiet and still, but your ideas will flow more readily when you eliminate any distractions in your environment. If you practice meditation or silent prayer, you know that the sensory environment around you can distract or deter you from getting the most out of your practice, and the same goes for writing. I had to pause my writing in this paragraph because my dogs needed attention. So, consider what might distract you in the next five to thirty minutes, and remove it, minimize its impact, or just consider that this is an opportunity to focus on yourself as best as you can in the circumstances.
There is no right or wrong way to write. I’m sort of a grammar and punctuation and structure fanatic, so I’m reluctant to tell you that, but it’s true in this case. There is no need to edit or refine your writing when its purpose is to explore a personal experience or new idea on paper. If you decide later to take more action on the idea, or to make a change in how you perceive or respond the experience you wrote about in this writing session, make a note in your journal/phone/app so that you can continue the new thought in your next session.
There is only one goal in this first exercise — to start. That said, I do highly recommend that you set aside at least 30 or 60 minutes for this writing meditation, especially if general writing or emotional communication is something you struggle with in general.
If you tried this exercise, or if you have any questions or concerns about this type of writing, you can find me on Facebook, Twitter/X, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. You can also find me on Instagram and Threads at @melanie_makovsky. (IG and Threads are hard to link to on this platform.) I’m working on starting a YouTube channel as well.