We all have our own individualized style of writing. Some have a more methodical approach, whereas mine is more emotional or expressive. You can see examples of this in my various pieces. While I am capable of writing a technical piece, as I've done once or twice, there is always a hint of humor within my words. In my opinion, also an emotion.
I took to writing, and in sharing, not only was I able to "speak" without interruption, I was able to reach out to others who had endured much of the same: other cancer patients, cancer survivors, and even a few caretakers of those enduring cancer and other illnesses. I received messages of love, hope, sympathetic thoughts, and thank yous. Through the kind words of others, I began to heal. The more I wrote, the less I bottled up, and the more I felt emotionally lightened. A weight lifted, my mood changed, and I even learned how to better communicate my feelings verbally. Piece by piece, I found myself more at peace with life. Through the big C (chemotherapy) and my attempt at understanding the "new normal," I have found my voice and I have gained relief.
Learning this has been incredibly eye opening for my career as a writer - I better learned how my writing affects my readers. Feedback from people who have read my pieces and always enjoyed my writing for how descriptive and easy to understand it is began flowing in. It helped me understand how important my emotions in my writing really are. I learned that through my emotional writing, I can build a connection with my audience. By writing with emotion, I become relatable and approachable. The connections I’ve built through my writing have been one of the biggest benefits. From being contacted through my writing, I was able to help start a Facebook group geared toward focusing on healing through humor, aptly named Got Chemo. Not only has freeing my emotions through my words helped me heal, it has helped grow my audience and strengthen my writing skills, but more importantly, I have gained priceless friendships.
Now, some advice for emotional writing (Please keep in mind this is just what worked for me).
Find a quiet, cozy place to write.
For me, the ideal time and place was in bed or on my favorite 10 year old couch, with the lights out, while everyone slept. You might find your desk beside the window with a view works best. It's imperative that you're comfortable. Maybe this means you have to meditate first: do it. Whatever it takes to get those words flowing.
Set the mood.
In my case, this means listening to music. Personally, I enjoy listening to Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, and the like. I pop on a record (yeah, the scratchy sounding ones) and there's nothing quite like it. If that's not available, the playlist on my phone with headphones works just as well. It might be something different for you; maybe taking a note pad or tablet in the bath with candles (Hey, some people do that... and it works).
I tend to wonder if I'm over sharing or if there are things people may not want to read.
This one isn't always easy, especially when you have kiddos or exceptionally needy dogs, like mine. Give the kids a task to keep them busy, like a building puzzle or drawing you a picture. If your distractions are more self induced than environmental (i.e. TV, social media), turn them all off. I love that I can put my phone on "airplane mode" and just use my notepad without hinderance. Make sure you let others know your intent to write and that they understand you need some privacy. If I have to, I go for a drive. Desperate times.
This one is typically hardest for me. I tend to wonder if I'm over sharing or if there are things people may not want to read. Let the reader make that call and get it all down. This advice I sometimes forget to take. I get it - it's hard not to censor yourself, but what's great about expressive writing is just letting it all out. Which, in turn, can mean letting it all go. Writing for me is like a reset button. I go about my days feeling "blocked" and then one day, I just need to write. Also, write first and edit last!
Find your silver lining.
Usually when writing emotionally, sad or angry thoughts are the primary emotions. At least that is usually the case for me; therefore, I try really hard to close my writing with something I've either learned or gained from the experience I'm writing about. An example of this is in "Confessions of a Cancer Patient," when I closed a particularly difficult piece with, "To be honest, it could be much worse. I'm already expecting good news from a future scan. In fact, yesterday might have been my last chemotherapy session."
This is by far the hardest part of writing to express emotion, but when done it can help achieve the closure you seek (or maybe you had no idea you've been after).
Many Kind Regards,
Expressive writing is just one form of online writing. Read what Erin has to say about online writing as a whole.
Original image credit: Christian Gonzalez Flickr