Writing for Self-Discovery

In my last post I mentioned that it’s hard to write about changing and evolving topics, like beliefs. What I failed to point out is that writing may be as much part of the solution to the fuzziness as a victim of it. Writing for deeper self-understanding and personal clarity is one of the huge and less-often-mentioned benefits of life writing, whether that be memoir, journal, or random free writing rants.

Jerry Waxler picked up on this topic in a recent post on Memory Writer’s Network. He discusses a memory he’s had since he was in high school, way back when. Not until he began crafting a story about the memory did he realize that there may be other ways to look at the situation and interpret it. He discovered a side to himself he hadn’t been aware of. He points to the value of writing in helping him reevaluate this belief, reporting that “All of these lessons about myself come from the simple act of trying to tell a proper story.”

Jerry's post reminds me that if I begin to journal or free write about my fuzzy beliefs, my thoughts on the topic are bound to become more clear.

Perhaps I’ll even turn to Writing As a Tool for Self-Discovery, an oldie by Heather Hughes-Calero. This book has been gathering dust on on my shelf for ages. I picked it up at a used booksale quite some time ago and keep meaning to read it. I quite often find books like this on my shelf. I’ve discovered that my subconscious mind tends to plan ahead, leading me to stockpile books, storing them for the day when I’m “ready” to benefit from their wisdom — a sort of twist on the Zen proverb, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

This student is ready. There is a long list of other books on this topic, so I’ll simply trust that this is the one I should read.

Even writing this blog post is generating a certain amount of clarity and substance to my beliefs:
  • I believe in the power of my subconscious.
  • I believe in the Truth of Zen proverbs, at least most of them, and especially this one.
  • I believe Truth is universal, not proprietary to any specific belief system.
I could expand this list further, but you get the point. Yes, writing about our lives and how we think about them is powerful indeed!

Write now: do some free writing about a fuzzy belief of your own. Select something that’s puzzling you, and let your fingers move, without analyzing what they write. Let it flow for at least ten minutes before rereading and thinking about it. The longer you write, the better. Highlight key phrases and concepts and write more about those. Clarity will come, but it may take some work.

Write on,

Sharon Lippincott, aka Ritergal


Jerry Waxler said...

That's a great point about trusting the power of the subconscious to reveal more truth. When a scene first bubbles up from my unconscious, it seems to be almost random. When I look closer I find an enormous amount of information. It's like reading a poem. I find a different meaning in it each time I read it.

Memory Writers Network

Anonymous said...

The more I write, the more
I know about myself.

Ritergal said...

Jerry, someday I must learn to tease a poem. Sounds like great sport!

Ritergal said...

Anonymous -- your comment reminds me of the variously attributed quote:

"I don't know what I think until I read what I wrote."