Less the Stress: Day 3 – Writing to Reduce Stress
New to the series? Read the first post here.
I’ve always found writing in all its forms very cathartic. There’s probably 15 notebook drafts of the story I wrote in elementary school called “Founders of the Secret Passage” that I started writing with my friend Lauren about searching for hidden places. It’ll be hilariously cringeworthy whenever I dig that one out some day. I loved writing stories, and then essays in high school through my English classes, and then Livejournal and Diaryland, and then of course, blogging and Twitter and whatever exists in the future. These were all things I do in relative privacy despite them being public. I almost never publicize my blog outside of Twitter. I’m not sure why. I think I write very well and I tell interesting stories. But I’ve probably always been too precious about my work. And if I were more susceptible as a kid, I would be an L. Ron Hubbard follower — apparently I submitted a story to some contest unknowingly. True story. I doubt I still have it but I’d love to see what that correspondence looked like.
Anyway. That’s not the point here. (But I love tangents. And parentheticals.) Writing is a great de-stresser in several ways. Writing for public consumption is about external validation. Writing in private is more about clearing your brain. For me, the best de-stress writing is my personal journal. Well, journals. I have a lot of them. When I’m laying in bed at night and the same pretend conversation runs in my head over and over again, I get up and write it down. It gets the words out of my brain and the result is satisfying. I don’t usually go back again to re-read it, but sometimes that perspective is helpful. It offers perspective: remember when you thought XYZ was terrible but then you made it? It also offers a look into patterns: do you write the same way every month and realize something happens consistently that upsets you? Do you write something you think is cool but didn’t share it for fear of judgment? (I do that a lot.)
I wish I wrote more privately. I also wish I took more risks with my writing. As I’ve learned from my podcast obsession (more on that later), pushing all your work out as often as possible is how you find what’s good — not holding onto to something forever. These days I leave out a sketch pad on my table in case the mood strikes me. Lately it’s just doodling but who knows what I’ll come up with next. Writing definitely keeps my crazy in check, and lets me see visually where my issues are coming from.