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  • Francie Healy

Freedom writing can get you through


Sometimes you need to write for no one but yourself.


When you’re hurting, or angry, or confused, or just plain miserable, put everything else aside and be your own audience for a change.


When life is overwhelming, when you want to cry or scream or just sit in a corner by yourself, there’s nothing like words, your own words, to free you, to get you through.


If you don’t know what to say, don’t let that stop you. You don’t have to share your words with anyone. No one is looking over your shoulder. When you’re finished, you can burn your words or bury them in the backyard. Or you can put them in a safe place to take out for future reflection, when you’re feeling better.


If you’re a fast typist, you might like to use a computer keyboard so your words can come out of your deepest self just as quickly as you think them. If not, or if you want to approach this more slowly, you might like to use paper and pencil. The act of writing can be more intimate that way: just you and the piece of paper in front of you. The method doesn’t matter.


If your words are stuck, turn off your inner voice ‒ the one that tells you this is ridiculous, or your words are silly, or you should be doing something productive, or you can’t write, or you can’t spell or whatever nonsense gets in your way. Tell that voice to back off, get lost, SCRAM.


And then, just start. Write a word. Any word. Let that word grow into two. Make it into a sentence, any sentence. See where it takes you. Talk about how you’re feeling, right now, this minute. About how you felt yesterday. Don’t analyze, don’t question. Just tell yourself about yourself. And remember ‒ you’re the only one listening.


One trick is just to describe the last thing you saw. Were you looking out the window? Maybe you noticed a cat running by? Write it down. Say how that cat reminded you of something. And how you felt about that something. And what that something looked like, sounded like, smelled like. How it makes you feel now.


Your words will probably ramble and dip and dive and perhaps make little sense. But that doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if your spelling is all wrong and your grammar is atrocious. No one sees these words but you.


Give yourself a daily time-frame, if that works for you. Try to set a goal of a certain number of words. Start with 25 if that’s all you feel like. Aim for more. And if you really get rolling, go with it. Write all night if you want to.


There’s something about “freedom” writing that can settle your heart and your spirit. It doesn’t make what’s bothering you better, but it makes you feel better. And if you feel better, you’ll get stronger. And if you’re stronger, you can tackle almost anything.


Writing doesn’t have to be work. It can be a gift to yourself.


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