Friday, March 30, 2012

Writing Therapy ~ Guest Post by Kari Scare

Guest Post by Kari Scare.  You can follow Kari on Twitter, @KariScare, or click here to link to her blog, "Struggle to Victory."

Excerpt from Kari's blog about her... "deliberate, intentional and curious, by pursuing simplicity and balance, and by striving to age gracefully, struggle will lead to victory."

Writing Therapy

Life is busy. Kids sports schedules. Work. Volunteer activities. Dinner. Add in the processing of these events and the relationships that make them worthwhile and complicated at the same time. How are my kids doing in school? Who are their friends? Am I a good leader? Am I productive? How can I be more productive and a better leader? Are our diets healthy? Do we get enough exercise? Am I spending enough time with the people who matter most to me? Then there’s the inner critic and the part that cares too much about what others think. Oh yeah, there are dreams and goals to consider too.

Endless thoughts to process. Infinite ideas to explore. Our minds get overloaded and busy so easily. They fill up with choices to make and details to remember leaving little to no room for new thoughts and ideas. The result? Often, almost total shutdown. A desire to escape. Make the noise stop. Somehow. Prevention exists as the only real antidote to overwhelming busyness and overload.

How do we prevent overload? By taking out before putting more in. By freeing space to allow room for processing life in an orderly and sane way instead of simply reacting constantly to what’s happening to us.

Writing therapy is an ideal method for freeing the mind and helping manage overload because it forces us to process thoughts as well as keeps records for future reference. There are 5 methods of writing therapy I regularly employ. These 5 methods were my path back to sanity and are a big part of my preventative maintenance plan.

    1.)    Journaling. I prefer a blank journal, and the majority of my journaling is praying. In other words, my journal entries tend to be my side of a conversation with God. I do throw in what I call a guided journal from time to time. Guided journals provide writing prompts, sometimes just a quote and sometimes a longer writing such as a devotion or other reflection.
    2.)    Lists. Lists provide a quick and easy way to clear the mind. Blog post ideas. House cleaning tasks. Errands. Books to read. Gift ideas. No topic is off limits. Related to lists are outlines, which are really just detailed lists. If you’re in a hurry, lists provide a quick way to focus. Once created, they also provide reminders for future references.
    3.)    Typing Dump. Sometimes writing by hand fails to keep pace with the flow of thoughts and ideas. A typing dump allows me to get a ton of ideas out quickly. When I am in the throes of a typing dump, my fingers and my subconscious connect and seem to bypass conscious thought. Often, I don’t even remember what I type. While journaling (hand writing) forces my conscious and subconscious to connect, a typing dump allows my subconscious free reign to let out its concerns.
    4.)    Email Vent. Some days, my thoughts need to go to a real person living and breathing in the world. Because I work at home alone, an email vent provides a great way to “talk” to other people and feel less alone. Sometimes, I share something that strikes me as funny, or I simply seek sympathy or advice from a trusted friend. Remember though, email is a permanent record not in your control once you send it to someone else. Choose recipients carefully.
   5.)    Idea Book. My idea book keeps random thoughts in one location. These thoughts don’t fit with my journaling, they aren’t something I’m ready to converse about, and they don’t really lend themselves to a list format. I also sometimes tape clippings from magazines in my idea book. My idea book provides thoughts I usually return to at some point for writing blog posts, devotionals and lessons. (I also use my idea book for making lists sometimes.)

Writing therapy must be absent of any guidelines or requirements. It’s all about just writing. As such, it leads the mind to clearer thinking. Writing therapy frees the mind to think and process because details no longer demand attention since they now have a permanent place on paper. As a result, balance replaces overload. If that sounds like a freeing feeling, know that this is exactly what it is, and writing therapy truly can lead you to that place.

On a final note, be consistent. That just means using some form of writing therapy daily to prevent thoughts from piling up and becoming overwhelming. Doing so also accomplishes the first step for any writer to become, well, a real writer, and that’s simply to write every day.


  1. Thanks for some great ideas, Kari.  It's an honor to have you here at the bistro.  Your participation is a big help for all the members and guests who visit here.

  2. Thanks again for the opportunity Mike.

  3. Thank YOU, Kari. You did a great job with this guest post. Glad you are part of the bistro.

  4. I love journaling. I do it like you - where it's basically writing out a prayer. It's really interesting because God will almost always bring scripture and concepts to mind while I'm praying, so it almost ends up being a sort of dialogue that's being written down.

  5. God definitely "speaks" to me through my writing. Not writing would be not communicating with my Creator.

  6. Great post, Kari.  I like #4, the email vent.  I set up an email account for my buddy, Wilson.  He's actually not a real person, but I bring him with me for photo opps and my family appreciates not being plastered all over the internet.  If I ever need to do an email vent, I'm going to send my rants to Wilson.  Although he will never reply, at least I can unload a few things when I need to.