Word Therapy

I’ve said this before but it bears repeating. For me, writing is free therapy. There is freedom in confession and sweet clarity as I spill thoughts one letter at a time.
Lately I’ve thought a lot about why I write. Because the truth is, I can’t not write. It’s a real and legitimate need. I’m still reluctant to admit that it is, in fact, something I have to do. When I don’t write, I become cranky.
My blog has evolved a lot since the beginning. Once a hodge-podge of posts about everything from furniture rehabs to recipes, it has firmly settled into its destined identity: the place where I write about the real. And while I promise to still do fun posts every now and then about room makeovers and chocolate torte, this is the primary place where I write.
Some posts are on topics I’ve worked through and I’m able to share from a standpoint of resolution. Internally, it’s all been processed {past tense} and the writing part somehow makes me feel complete. Other posts are very much about issues that are in process {present tense.} I use words to unpack and flesh out and find sought-after perspective. I tend to walk around in a very pent-up state, thick thoughts a tangled up mess of knots. But as the words come, my mind clears and the tension drains and I feel a sense of relief that’s hard to explain.
I have people dear to me who achieve this by talking things through with someone else. And while I enjoy conversation and I love my friends, I rarely go to another person in order to process thoughts or to figure something out. I will vent and lament and share and laugh and cry with my husband or my best girls. But the figuring out? That typically takes place through thinking, through prayer, and through writing.
I write plenty of stuff that never sees the light of day. Sometimes I feel better after writing for a bit and have no compulsion to tidy it up and hit “publish post.” Sometimes I begin writing about one thing and end up with something entirely different. I love it when that happens. Writing has a way of laying bare the issues that really need to be uncovered. For me, penning thoughts can be something very intentional or very serendipitous, but always, it is therapeutic.
I’ve also thought a lot about the sharing of words, wondering why I often share my writing with others but sometimes I don’t. I’ve wondered if the writing is indulgent or performance-driven. And it probably is to a certain extent. Of course I’m honored and elated when people tell me that they love what I’ve written, that it resonates with them. Because while writing is my therapy, it is also my art {as Emily would say,} frightened amateur though I am.
I’m sure that artists who create with paints and brushstrokes keep some of their work private. Maybe they think it’s not good enough or maybe they simply feel better after putting color to canvas. But they also put pieces on display and place their work in galleries. They put it out there for the world to behold and connect with and find beauty in.
Those of us who write are no different. Yes, our souls find rest as we string words and thoughts, as we nod proud and feel complete. But there is such joy, such satisfaction, when what we’ve strung together strikes a chord with other souls.
Tangible typeface stringing two or three or a thousand souls together–it’s such a beautiful, magical thing to be part of. And beyond the comfort writing provides for the writer, I think it’s the stringing souls together part that propels us to keep writing.
What about you? If you write, why do you do it? If you don’t, what sort of writing do you return to again and again as a reader?

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