Updated: Oct 6, 2020
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I will never get tired of answering this question. Why do I write? I started writing to figure out how to express my emotions. At the time, I was eating my feelings. Writing was a way for me to figure out an acceptable way to express love, hate, fear, etc.
After my freshman year of college, I moved back home. College was HARD. I didn’t have any trouble with my classes, but I struggled with everything else - making friends, adulting, taking care of myself, and being homesick. I was also questioning my major - engineering isn’t exactly a straightforward profession. The worst part was that I coped with everything by eating. I gained thirty pounds during my freshman year.
My parents were gracious enough to let me move back into my old room, use their toilet paper, and eat their food. They told me it was okay to take a year off - this was back in the day when it was less acceptable to take a break from college. So I came home to explore what to do with my life and figure out how to deal with my issues.
The Job That Changed It All
That year, I got a job at the local library, shelving books. I spent hours in the stacks, putting back, straightening, and rearranging volumes. The job required a lot of time alone, I didn’t need any help with my work and not a lot of people ventured into the library during the day. Isolation was exactly what I needed. My mind wandered through my problems as I wandered through the shelves, allowing me to process the past year.
I got familiar with the library selves. Books have always been one of my favorite past-times so I was reading more than normal. As I worked on a full cart of books, I thought about the book I just finished. That’s when a story popped into my head. A book idea!
I thought that’s nice.
And moved on.
No spoilers here, but I eventually started writing. It took me weeks because I had the misconception that I wasn’t a writer because English was my worst subject in school. I have always been a science girl and never imagined being an author.
Eventually, I did sit down to write. It was a struggle but for a reason, I didn’t expect. I knew I would have trouble with grammar and spelling.; the timeline was going to take some figuring out. The real struggle was how do people react when they are mad? Or sad? Or happy? I had no idea. The first time my characters had to express an emotion, I sat in front of my computer for probably five minutes.
Over the next few months, while I wrote the first few chapters of my book, I spent extra time processing how my characters expressed the easiest of emotions. And yes, I did have to Google some reactions. In turn, I had the first steps in expressing my emotions. It took some time and I made a few mistakes along the way.
One weekend, we couldn't go to the movies so my sister and I got ice cream instead. Though I wasn't hungry, I ordered a large. My sister gave me and my enormous ice cream cone a funny look. That's when I realized I was actually sad and trying to eat my feelings.
But I got there! Today I cry when I’m sad and yell when I’m mad. I still eat ice cream, because ice cream is good, but I don't eat it to express my emotions.
Writing became therapy for me. I thought maybe I would grow out of it after my emotional eating got better, but I never stopped putting words on the page. I wrote a book in college and continued to hone my craft after graduating.
Everyone has their therapy and writing is mine.
I want to encourage you to start writing. I know some people write in journals, but that is a stream of consciousness. I’m talking about organizing your life experiences and feelings into an article or even a book. There is a big difference between writing down your thoughts and organizing your thoughts. Look back at those streams of consciousness and re-write them so someone else can understand you.
And just because you write it down, doesn’t mean other people have to read it! Professional therapy sessions aren't broadcast on TV (unless consented to like Jerry Springer and Dr. Phil) so yours don't have to be either.
Writing has allowed me to think through my emotions and put them into understandable thoughts. I feel like I can better articulate what I need and where I want to be. Writing these articles has given me insight into who I am, how my experiences have shaped me, and what I want out of life. It has helped me make decisions and encouraged me. Writing can help you too!
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