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Write Now: There Is No Right Or Wrong Way To Journal

Writing is powerful.

Imagine my surprise and delight when I read the April 5 article “Keeping A Journal Has Mental Health Benefits” by Morgan Pitts, LMSW, on Page A7. The article for Family Service of the Chautauqua Region was spot on.

I say this because recently, I wrote about how writing can be cathartic. I think writing is a perfect way to help with one’s emotional battles.

According to Pitts, “journaling can act as a symptom tracker; help prioritize fears, worries, and problems; help gain control of emotions; and encourage positive self talk. Having a place to write down thoughts, goals, and emotions can help discover negative thought patterns, connect thoughts to feelings, to actions, and to improve mood and quality of life. More specifically, journaling can help manage anxiety, depression, and stress.”

Journaling does exactly that –manage stress.

I totally agree with the WRITE method.

According to Pitts, WRITE is Whatever, Review, Investigate, Time, and End.

Whatever is the first step when deciding what to write. The best part is that the writer can write about whatever he wants to, and not worry about if what is being written is correct or not.

Writing is powerful.

The WRITE method is similar to the writing process — prewriting (brainstorming), rough draft, revising, editing and publishing.

Pitts added that reviewing is allowing the writer to reflect on what was written and how it connects to the writer’s life.

Writing is powerful.

Investigating, Pitts said, is letting the writer exploring his thoughts and feelings. This is important because the writer may want to comment on his emotional experience when writing about a certain event.

Writing is powerful.

Pitts said that it is also important for the writer to manage his time. The writer should try to write something every day. “Try to write something every day, even though it might seem weird at first, soon it will become part of your routine. … You should also write continuously without worrying about spelling or grammar.” Pitts noted. Allowing one to not worry about spelling or grammar is beneficial because one will get his thoughts on the page instead of worrying if his thoughts are spelled correctly or are grammatically correct. One can go back and fix any spelling or grammar mistakes.

Writing is powerful.

Finally, Pitts said, is to end the writing session. “Choose a stopping point that makes sense to you and allow yourself time to reflect on the event and the writing, making sure to focus on yourself. … Remember there is no right or wrong way to journal for your mental health. Journaling can be used to track symptoms, explore feelings associated with certain events, and to better understand yourself,” Pitts said.

I couldn’t agree more.

I had previously written that I am not brainstorming because I am writing fiction or a scholarly paper. I am brainstorming to maybe get my angry or sad thoughts onto the page and purge them out of my head. The physical act of writing, the transference of words and ideas to a page alleviates stress. The best part is that I can write what I want and write how I want to write. There is no formula. There is no guide.

Some may say it’s a form of journaling, and they would be 100 percent correct.

So if you are ever in emotional turmoil, try collecting your words, thoughts and ideas on a page either handwritten or typed. It doesn’t matter which. What matters is that you have begun to deal with your emotional turmoil.

Writing is powerful.

It’s that easy.

It’s that hard.

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