Writing every day can be a good habit even if you don’t want to become an author. It’s a relaxing, cathartic, deep experience that can help you become a better version of yourself.
On paper we think more clearly than we do in our heads. Even if we don’t set out to write our thoughts, our writing usually encompasses them. Our thoughts pop up in our blog posts, in our messages, in our stories even, in the voice of other characters. There are also times when we don’t know what we think. Writing is then a way for us to make sense of our thoughts, to learn what we actually think about something.
In psychoanalysis, catharsis stands for the “purging of emotional tensions”. Emotional tension is something that builds up over time, whether or not life’s giving us a hard time. Writing about those tensions is a simple and inexpensive way to let them out before they settle in us, like dregs at the bottom of an old bottle of wine.
Slows down time
Writing and memory work together to give our past meaning. Even if it’s just writing a few notes about what you did last week, you can give a stronger meaning to your past. You can also go back to that writing later, or share it with others.
Imagine that you are angry. Someone did something bad to you. Or something awful happened. You can write about that, you can shout and scream on the page in capitals and with as many exclamation marks as you want. By the time you’re done you’ll not only feel a bit better, but you may even realize just how hard you’ve taken everything. After you’ve written about something, you can look at it more objectively, because everything has been translated into words on a page or on a screen. It’s no longer in you, it’s out there. And it may seem not that bad anymore, certainly not hopeless.
Letters may be out of fashion, but blogs are not, neither are text messages, social media, and email. Many of us express ourselves better in writing. When we talk, we feel that we’re not saying everything, or that we’re just agreeing with the one that’s talking.
After writing, we often feel lighter. We get things off our chest. Even if writing can’t solve our problems, save our relationships, or advance our careers, it can detoxify us of excess thoughts and desires.
Saves you from doing worse things
Writing is mostly harmless. Writing is also cheap. When you write, you don’t do a thousand other things that can be bad for you. When you write, you may not smoke or drink. You may not binge eat. You may not go to fast food shops. You may not just waste hours in front of the TV. Writing also helps you save money. It keeps you inside, in one place. No shopping, no traveling, nothing. Just writing.
Leads ever deeper inside you
Even when we write about others, we relate everything to ourselves. We validate or invalidate beliefs. We form impressions. We increase our knowledge. No written word is wasted if it’s written with pleasure, because writing isn’t just words on paper, but a mirror held in front of you, which shows you what your bathroom mirror can’t.
What other benefit of writing have I missed? And do you ever write when you don’t have to, just for the pleasure of it?
photo by Aidan Meyer