When life takes an unexpected turn, writing can be an invaluable way to help you cope.

Writing has a way of adding purpose and meaning to your life, and it helps you tap into your intuition, uncover secrets, enhance your communication skills, improve your mental health and provide the tools to plan for the future.

We are all storytellers. Stories help us understand and make sense of our lives, the lessons we’ve learned, and our dreams for the future. Storytelling is a universal way of communicating cultural traditions, values and beliefs. In my book, Writing for Bliss, I explain how writing personal narratives helps us examine our lives, and also helps us share our stories with others. Writing for healing is very useful when recovering from trauma, such as PTSD and certain illnesses. It’s also helpful when in recovery from addictions. Sometimes memories from our past experiences become blurred, and writing can help us organize our thoughts.

Some people also find it useful to write as they move through a chaotic or difficult time; but, more often than not, a certain distance from the event offers a better perspective needed for healing and transformation.

I’ve been writing since the age of 10, when my mother gave me a journal to help me cope with my grandmother’s suicide. Journaling helped me process the enormity of my thoughts and feelings and move through the chaos of the experience.

When you’re feeling sadness, fear or anger, it can be quite cathartic to pour your feelings out via the written word. A dear writing colleague of mine once said, “If it hurts, write harder.”

Taking the time to engage in some personal writing — whether it’s recording your thoughts in a journal, writing a poem, novel, memoir or essay, or penning a letter — will propel you on a voyage of self-discovery and self-awareness. Writing also offers you the opportunity to vent, and it inspires mindfulness, which studies have shown is linked to happiness.

Consider writing about your life with a child’s curiosity and awe. Writing with a child’s magical mind-set can be a beneficial way to unearth profound secrets that may be swirling about in your subconscious mind.

Whether you’re affected by change, loss or pain, finding the time to write is crucial to your healing process. No matter if your preference leans toward poetry, journaling, fiction writing or letter writing, once you try it, you’ll see that writing in any form can be healthy, inspirational, and empowering.

In case you have difficulty embarking on the writing process, here are some prompts to serve as a springboard for your writing:

• Write about what makes you happy.

• Write about what makes you sad.

• Write about your first memory.

• Write about a turning point in your life.

• Write about a person who changed your life.

• Write about your first experience doing something you loved as a child, such as riding a bicycle or swimming.

• Write a letter of gratitude to someone.

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Diana Raab, Ph.D., M.F.A.
Diana Raab, Ph.D., M.F.A., is an award-winner memoirist, poet, speaker and workshop facilitator. She is the author of nine books including, her latest, Writing for Bliss: A Seven-Step Plan for Telling Your Story and Transforming Your Life. Her most recent poetry book is called, Lust. In her 40-year career, she’s been as an advocate of personal writing. Dr. Raab facilitates workshops in writing for transformation and empowerment, focusing on journaling, poetry, and memoir writing. She believes in the importance of writing to achieve wholeness and interconnectedness, which encourages the ability to unleash the true voice of your inner self. Raab blogs for numerous blogs, including: Psychology Today, Elephant Journal, and Thrive Global. Visit her at dianaraab.com.

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