The Importance of Writing It Down.

March 22, 2020

The Importance of Writing It Down.

May 29, 2023

Writing it down, whether it’s a quick observance of gratitude (I am grateful for… ) or the acknowledgement of pervasive fear (What if I die from COVID-19?), is one of the most important mental change agents in your toolkit. Especially in this anxious time.

With Coronavirus infections racing through the U.S. at an exponential rate, writing it down is one way to capture and make sense of the mess of thoughts in your head. We’re all thinking the same things: if I get it, will I die? What about elderly or at-risk family and friends? Beyond social distancing what can and should I do? How long will this catastrophe last? What about the economic consequences? And will there be a hospital ICU bed if I need one?

If you were to sit down right now, harness your hysteria, and address all those questions honestly, would you feel better? The answer is yes, even if you don’t have all the answers.

This kind of writing is often called journaling and some scoff at its efficacy. Is journaling self-indulgent? Not according to Ben Franklin, Henry David Thoreau, Virginia Woolf, Joan Didion, and many others.

Capturing your thoughts and ejecting them onto paper or the screen gives you clarity, perspective and a sense of control. Writing enables you to tap into your own wisdom. It forces you into the moment, where we should all be living anyway. Try a five or ten-minute writing session where you dump it all out:

  • Describe your deepest fears about the Coronavirus (include your own magical thinking)
  • Admit to some degree of selfishness (it’s okay; we all have a primal self-preservation instinct)
  • Enumerate the things you are doing to keep busy (reading, catching up on TV series, practicing a musical instrument, drawing or other art-making, FaceTiming and phone to stay in touch with friends and family, near and far)

Follow this with a more structured two-minute morning practice offered by author Neil Pasricha. Ask yourself three questions and write down the answers:

“I will let go of… “
“I am grateful for… “
“I will focus on… “

If you want to change your thinking in this supremely uncertain moment, reduce panic and anxiety, and possibly change the way you are influencing those around you, start writing. Everyday. Not a moment of your precious time will be wasted.

Debbie Weil is a nonfiction writing and storytelling coach, host of the podcast Gap Year For Grown-Ups, and a two-time MEA graduate.

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