11 Ways of Dealing with Anxiety:
6. Writing

This is the sixth instalment of 11 Ways of Dealing with Anxiety, an ongoing experiment in listening.

Writing

I’m a great fan of 750words.com. It has helped me through some hard times and gotten me out of some scrapes. I am often surprised to find out what I honestly think, or what I truly want, if I just let myself write out whatever comes to mind.

Writing is for introverts what talking is for extroverts. Introverts like to think before they speak and often will not speak until they have worked out what they are going to say. Writing is a way of externalising and processing thoughts in solitude without having to speak.

Use a medium that lets your thoughts flow as unimpeded as possible. Choose a medium you enjoy: writing, drawing, doodling, coloured pencils, crayons, a fountain pen, a special booklet or journal, a mind map; of if you are a techie or a geek, then use your favourite gadget of the moment.

I like writing with a keyboard. I can type faster than I can write. I don’t have to know where a sentence is going before I start it. It is easy to go back and correct a mistake or to hone a thought. The danger with the keyboard is that is it too easy to check email or follow a train of thought on the Internet and to get lost. But, when I write long-hand I tend to try to work out the whole sentence before I put pen to paper and this holds back the flow of half-formed thoughts.

The art is to write whatever comes to mind:

  • as stream of consciousness,
  • with self-acceptance,
  • gently letting go of judgement, censure, censoring,
  • and allowing the mind to attend to the thoughts of this body.

I have noticed that I have used the phrase “whatever comes to mind” a couple of times. I haven’t said, for example, “whatever the mind comes up with.” Rather than imagining the mind as that aspect of ourselves that thinks, imagines, remembers, understands and creates, it is also possible to imagine the mind as that which is receptive to ideas, thoughts, images, wisdom and creativity. Is the mind as much a receiver (radio / TV) as a transmitter (studio)? The art then is to open the mind and to see what comes.

This requires trust. Just as this body is not “my” body, perhaps this mind is not “my” mind. In fact, if I think deeply enough, I am at a loss to know what really is mine. Who or what am “I” really? Do I “have” anything?

So just start: open your journal; find a blank piece of paper; open the word processor; use a whiteboard; go to 750words.com.

Trust that the rest will follow.

One more thing. It is sometimes in the small hours that I lie awake worrying. This is usually pointless and unproductive, but nevertheless I am unable to get back to sleep. Thoughts circle without resolution. Just like talking, writing breaks this deadlock.

Get up! Write!

Next in the series: 7. Walking and Nature.

2 thoughts on “11 Ways of Dealing with Anxiety:
6. Writing

  1. This is a helpful idea. For years I have often followed Julia Cameron’s suggestion of ‘Morning Pages’ [in ‘The Artist’s Way’].
    When you wake up, just write (or scribble!) 3 sides of A4 paper with whatever comes to mind. Many times I have poured out the hurt, frustration confusion–or anger that has been lurking around.
    By the third page I find I have calmed down, solutions are appearing and my day starts more calmly, with creativity and hope.
    I guess the 750 words may have a similar function

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