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Writing Practices as a Way to Understand Yourself – VISIYA

Updated: May 5, 2023

Many people have heard about the therapeutic effect of a journal and think they know how to keep one correctly in order to get the most out of intuitive introspection. In reality, things are a little more complicated with writing practices. Not all entries have a therapeutic effect, not all journaling systems may be suitable for a particular person (some may even be harmful), and they also have different tasks.

How Do Writing Practices Differ?

Therapists warn that unstructured, unconstrained, and thematic writing is dangerous for the most traumatized people. They usually fail to recognize when to stop and no longer dive into a painful subject.

Psychotherapist Kathleen Adams noticed this and suggested a simple scheme to some of her clients: as a journaling practice, all they had to do was finish sentences like “Right now I want to...”, “My biggest fear is...”, “Today I feel...”. If the writers were willing to reveal a thought, Kathleen gave five minutes, which she felt was enough time for the notes to have a therapeutic effect without endangering the psyche.

This rule can be adopted by anyone who wants to acquire a journaling habit but is wary of its depressive effect. A journal isn’t a place to push yourself to get more and "better," but even short, regular entries will be useful for character analysis.

Quasi-therapy online services that offer writing 280 characters to 750 words a day deserve our special attention. Basically, there is no difference between them and an ordinary diary, except for a slightly more complicated motivation system. 750 words is three pages of text and a rather large amount for the writer to have time to delve too deeply into his own experiences.

How to Choose a Method and Not Harm Yourself?

There are a lot of journaling techniques, so you are free to try them all. If you’re not sure that journaling is your thing, then you can start with some simple techniques like huge lists (100 Things I Value, 100 Ways I Help Others) – it may sound very naive and at the same time grandiose, but it’s the scale that allows you to include not only logic, but also subconscious mechanisms.

You can write anonymous letters; this helps you to cope with intense emotions that you may not want to vent on a particular person for a number of reasons. The well-known mind mapping can also be used for a journal (these maps are perfect in situations when you need a cool solution or an open mind).

If you search on your own, you should be cautious only of those sources that recommend free writing. This technique can be unsafe when the author of the journal is trying to work through a traumatic situation or is in a state of depression. On the other hand, free writing is good for unleashing creativity and generating unconventional ideas.

The recommendations for journaling are pretty much the same everywhere. It’s important to remember that you only need the journal to make you feel better - that is, any prolonged deterioration in your mood will be reason enough to stop writing (at least for a while) or to opt for another technique.

Write when you are calm, in a place where you won’t be disturbed, and when you don’t have to worry about unfinished business. One of the greatest requirements of any journaling methodology is to be honest with yourself, so it’s not superfluous to ensure that no one will ever find your journal. There is another important requirement that comes from honesty: a personal text isn’t supposed to be stylistically perfect; it may contain errors, missing punctuation, and foreign words, but the main thing is that it should convey the message you would like to capture as accurately as possible.

Woman writing into her diary
Writing practices

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