Most of us have to overcome trauma in one way or another during a lifetime. It could be a car crash or your home getting robbed or an abusive relationship or a cancer diagnosis for yourself or someone you love. Or, it could be a pandemic. COVID-19 locked has many of us in houses for days on end, and I’m not going to get started on how that can change life, only to say that change is hard and this is a time of uncertainty.
So how can we simply, and effectively, deal with trauma? Where do we start? Easy answer: write.
Take out a sheet of paper and start writing what you feel right now. What are you thinking? What is happening in your life?
“I don’t know where to start,” I hear you say.
“No problem,” I answer. Here’s a great exercise. Often called “free-fall writing,” it’s a method to get started and overcome that block. It’s simple. And best of all, it works.
Step 1: Get a sheet of paper, or a journal, or something else to write on. A pen. Or a computer.
Step 2: Set a timer for 10 minutes.
Step 3: Start by writing the sentence, “I want to write about…” then keep going. If you run out of things to say, write “I want to write about…” again. And again and again until your words begin to flow.
Step 4: And here’s the key: NEVER LIFT YOUR PEN. NEVER STOP WRITING. Shut off that internal editor that keeps saying, “I can’t write that” or “that’s not the right spelling” or “that’s not what I mean” or ” I can say that better.” DON’T STOP WRITING until the timer rings, marking your ten minutes.
Likely, by the end of the exercise, you’ll be writing freely and well. And if you want to, you can go back and edit. Or think about your feelings.
Expressive writing can help healing. Try it. And if you’re interested in reading more about this topic have a read of “How to heal through life writing” by Johns Hopkins University writing and editing instructor Uddipana Goswami.
Copyright © Allan Boss
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