When I'm upset, if there is a choice between having a glass of wine or writing my thoughts down on paper, I'll always forgo the wine and instead find a pen to write my feelings down on paper. I've released my emotions through writing for many years now. I call this habit "Therapeutic Writing." I just let all my words flow out in a stream of consciousness until my mind is finally less foggy.
As a teenager, this essential outpouring of feelings most often took the form of song lyrics, stories and poetry. But in my early twenties, I was given a gift of a blank journal with inspirational quotes on each page called a "Book of Days." At the same time, I'd been indulging in reading my first Diaries of Anais Nin. Inspired by Anais, I decided to write in my "Book of Days" daily, under each labeled day. By the end of the year, I filled the book up completely, even if some days only contained one sentence. I was amazed at how there was always SOMETHING I could come up with to write once I formed the habit of sitting down every day. I believe this is how I developed the "necessity" to write.
These days, therapeutic writing is no longer a conscious habit. Instead, it is now a sense of urgency where as soon as I feel emotional about something, I just HAVE to get it down onto paper. Even if it's on bits of scrap paper that I tear up afterwards, just the act of emptying my thoughts from my mind through my hand makes me feel so much better.
Speaking of coworkers, years ago, I noticed that two of my coworkers seemed constantly upset. They were very negative in general and always conflicted about decisions they had to make. So for Christmas, I gave both of them blank journals and told them about my very essential, daily writing habit. I suggested they write something in it every day, even if it's just a sentence, just so they can develop the habit. I explained that in no time, they will be able to use their journal as a mental medicine that will help them think clearly about what is positive in their lives and to identify their inner thoughts in order to enable them to make decisions. Sadly, I don't think either of them took me up on it. Maybe they needed an expert in the field to guide them and to confirm my beliefs about the benefits of therapeutic writing. I believe that the book I'm reading now, "Writing For Bliss," by Diana Raab, Ph.D. would have convinced them!
I met Dr. Raab through our devotion to Anais Nin because we both contributed writing pieces to Volume 13 of the Anais Nin Literary Journal "A Cafe In Space." Another thing we have in common is that both of us use the word "Bliss" in our titles! My first novel's title, "Bliss, Bliss, Bliss," is based on a quote that has the word "Bliss" in it several times and is from "The Early Diary of Anais Nin, Volume 4." Dr. Raab's new book is a great starting point to learn how to use writing to heal and to release the usual everyday tensions and stressors in a healthy way through writing rather than engaging in destructive outlets.
Dr. Raab describes the importance of journal writing in these quotes from "Writing For Bliss":
"A journal, diary, or notebook - whatever you choose to call it - can play many roles. It can serve as a vehicle for self-expression, a tool for clarity, a repository for observations, and a container for thoughts. A journal may also be a powerful tool for comfort during difficult times...Journal writing can be as calming and grounding as meditation is. It can orientate you and stabilize your emotions."
I highly recommend Dr. Raab's step by step guide, "Writing For Bliss," which is extremely thorough and includes numerous exercises to get you in the habit of therapeutic writing. It is a good way to get real with yourself and to confront painful memories from the past. It helps you to learn to write from your heart, which is where the truth is, rather than from your mind. It also helps get you started on writing your own poetry and memoirs, if you've ever considered doing that.
Basically, I don't know what I would do if I didn't have writing to release my tensions and emotions. It's truly amazing how something so simple and cheap can heal so much!