This quote is the last line of an article I read this week titled, “You Can Write Your Way out of an Emotional Funk. Here’s how.” This piece is part of the “Science of Us” feature that New York Magazine puts out. In it, Susan David writes about the research showing that simply writing about a challenging event makes it easier for us to deal with the aftermath. It seems that simply by writing, and through that, reflecting on what is happening in our lives (even if it is just for twenty minutes), is enough to “turn obstacles into opportunities to connect more directly with our deepest values.” This is such a powerful statement, and, in many ways, the entire rationale for why #Blog365 was created.
Regardless of your profession, the need to reflect on your work is necessary if we are to continuously improve in all that we do. When we write, we force ourselves to reflect, because we have to think about the ideas, at least in the short-term, in order to actually put them on paper. David cites the work of James Pennebaker, and how he found (both through experiences in his own life, as well as that of others) that writing helped draw out feelings, and that thinking about feelings helped writers cope with the worst of what was happening to them.
Pennebaker cites free-writing rules of setting a timer, letting the words flow out, and not worrying about grammar, punctuation and styling as we write. He also mentions that this type of writing should be in the moment and written for an audience of one (the writer). He notes that after writers become comfortable with the process, they can always explore projecting outward through a blog or the writing of a book, along with reflecting inward.
My first #Blog365 experience two years ago helped me to become a better writer, reflector, and thinker. In many ways, I attribute my subsequent writing over the last two years (including the writing of Professional Development That Sticks) to that daily reflection and spilling out of words onto the page. While it was always gratifying when someone read a piece, it was more about me just taking the time to think about what was happening in my life. While I don’t have the data to back it up, that year of writing daily certainly seems as if it were a happy and enjoyable year for me.
This year, as I embark on the beginning of a new, and larger, #Blog365, I’m hoping for much the same in terms of results. I want to become a better writer, a better thinking, a better educator, and, a better person. Writing can’t solve all our problems, but it can help us better prepare ourselves to solve many of them, particularly when those problems are within our locus of control and can be solved by adjusting our own way of thinking. I smiled when I read David’s piece, as it made me realize that maybe this #Blog365 initiative isn’t just a fun “thing.” Maybe it has the potential to be a much larger movement, one that, in an age of constant digital distraction, may help us focus a minute, or twenty, every day, on thinking about what we do and where we hope to go.
Note: David’s article, courtesy of Science of Us, can be found here: http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2016/09/journaling-can-help-you-out-of-a-bad-mood.html