Writing is a way of making sense of ideas, thoughts and feelings. It involves a process of integrating external and internal ideas. It requires logic and management of ideas, finding and crafting words to express what is circulating within our minds. As we write we can be aware of the emotions that are ever present. Finding words for these can sometimes be hard. There is a practical aspect as well of getting words down on a page, whether by old style handwriting, typewriter or one of the latest forms of technology. There is consideration also of the audience, thinking about who will read these words, who we will want to read these words and who will want to and why they may be interested in reading what we have written.
Psychology is a way of making sense of our ideas, thoughts and feelings. A way to understand, filter out what is unnecessary or unhelpful from outside of us, keeping what is important and then integrating those external ideas with our personal or internal ideas. Logic is helpful to make sense of this but we are increasingly aware of the impact of our emotions, which may not be that logical. We now recognize and engage with emotions. We learn to understand how our behaviors might be driven by emotions or attitudes. The way we behave also affects our emotions. Ignoring emotions is not really possible because they might just keep emerging anyway, sometimes when we least expect them to.
Writing can be helpful in as a way of taming or helping our psyche, but so might other forms of expression. At times words just can’t capture what it is we feel or want to say. We might need something more abstract, more basic, more primal. Sometimes words from other languages can help us more. Sometimes an image says it all, more than words can ever convey.
It’s no wonder then that when we are trying to sort through ideas, worries and conflicting thoughts we might find journaling or some other way to find and use language to express ourselves helpful. It can be a way to draw out the thoughts and feelings and contain them somehow. It can be a way of putting them down on paper so we can see them. Once they are there we can have more control over them. We can keep them, delete them or physically tear them up or even rearrange or reshape them. We can once again feel in charge of our thoughts and feelings, less overwhelmed, less out of control.
We might even just put them away for another time. Coming back to them later to check how we had been feeling or seeing the world can help us to gain more understanding of ourselves over time. We can start to build this in to our regular life and monitor our progress and development over time. We can even choose to share it with others, perhaps those most close to us, or perhaps with strangers. Paradoxically, it seems, sometimes it’s easier to share what is most personal to us with complete strangers. Language, with all its complexities, is, after all, the main currency we use to engage with each other. It can start a conversation, enhance a relationship or just help us connect with each other.
We might decide to attend some writing classes or join a writing group and find others who are experiencing their own life journeys. They might also be exploring writing as a way of containing or actioning their ideas. Writing for themselves, writing for others, it might not even matter. Sharing life experiences through story can give a sense of distance while at the same time bringing the ideas and worries out from under their surface, where they may have been harbored for a while, perhaps a long while in some cases. Being focused on the writing might enable them to appear slowly and safely, not completely overwhelming or scaring us as they might have otherwise.
Attending a writing group can be a bit like attending a self help group. A place to bring your ideas and worries. In the writing group the writing becomes the lens through which ideas and worries can be seen and played with. The writing forms the frame through which they can be managed. In the self help group the ideas and worries might continue to be the focus for a while, circulating aimlessly until avenues for sorting through them are found – the lens or frame might be writing, might be talking, might be meditation, might be other creative outlets. Sharing them with other fellow travelers might help. In some ways it mightn’t really matter – the aim is the same. Finding a way to unravel our thoughts and ideas so we can get back in charge of ourselves so we can keep on going is simply the aim.