Part 4: Connecting to Your Inner Self Through Writing
Many women have asked me to write their stories after reading my memoir, Unbridled, and Wounded Warrior, Wounded Wife. Writing these books taught me the healing power of storytelling. While it is sometimes challenging to be honest and raw about aspects of our journey, the more we open up the better we can see our lives from a different perspective and make clearer decisions going forward. Putting our experiences into words transforms and heals.
With that in mind, here's the fourth post in my series on the power of storytelling. Every journey of 1,000 miles begins with the first step. Let’s begin writing the stories of our lives whether we publish them or not. In August, I'll be leading a writing workshop for the wives of wounded warriors in partnership with Hearts of Valor, and will dig even deeper into these themes! If you're interested in attending, you can apply here to join Hearts of Valor.
But for now, let's talk about the power of automatic writing and how it can help us understand our own psyches.
A different kind of journaling
So much of our formal education focuses on writing the “right” way. From a young age, we're taught spelling and grammar, then sentence format and paragraph structure. We're given strict parameters and told to wedge our writing into them.
Journaling can feel less rigid. With no assigned topics or grades to be earned, we feel freer to express our innermost feelings and yearnings. But even keeping a traditional journal may be a bit confining. Once we've learned the “rules” of writing, it can feel strange and unnatural to break them. So we journal using many of the same constructs we apply to formal writing assignments.
To truly tap your inner voice, try automatic writing or stream-of-consciousness writing. This means literally writing whatever words flow into your mind, with no judgment and no editing.It can feel odd at first and you will definitely end up with some passages full of gibberish! But only by giving your mind and soul totally free reign will you be able to access the deepest, most well-hidden aspects of your true self.
Journaling exercise: Free your writing mind
Set aside a solid chunk of time—at least an hour—and situate yourself in a quiet, calming spot. Get your journal and pen, and breathe deeply before you begin.
If your mind begins to rev up all on its own, follow its lead. Write down every thought, word, and sentence fragment that floats into your head. Do it all fluidly and never judge what is coming out. In fact, try not to analyze at all. Just let the words flow onto the page. You can read them over later.
If you need some prompts, here are a few probing questions that can help you learn more about your inner life and hidden desires:
- Write about the moment you knew something important had ended.
- Write about a gift you gave to someone which was not appreciated.
- Write about your ideal day.
- Write about a vivid sexual memory.
- Write about being sick in bed.
- Write about a selfish fear.
- Write about an old dream.
- Write about where you would travel to today if you could.
- Write about your values.
- Write about something you are no longer sure of.
- Write about something you wish you could still do.
- Write about homesickness.
- Write about confusion, and how it feels in your body.
- Write about satisfaction, and how it feels in your body.
- Write about the person you hope to become.