Writing Goes Where The Mind Won’t

I spent much of the afternoon yesterday reading The Right to Write by Julia Cameron — a collection of loosely related essays about the quiet, glorious magic of writing.

Each piece was practically glowing with the trust she puts in her writing practice, the absolutely unshakeable belief that writing is her irrevocable birth right and that literally anything at all that happens in her life can and will be resolved on the page.

Cameron has been through an extremely high-profile divorce, addiction, mental illness, and sudden, vertiginous fame, and through it all the writing has kept her going. I think it’s because writing lets you get at the stuff — the deep down, too-dark stuff that can swamp you if you start thinking about it front-on.

In writing, you can sneak up on your stuff, instead of it sneaking up on you.

You can pull the finest strand from the Gordian knot that has tangled itself around your organs, and then another the next day. Slowly, slowly, the knot unravels, instead of pulling itself tighter and tangling you up on it like it does when you lunge straight at it.

Instead of trying to explain an impossible experience to someone, or to say the right words to capture to an indescribable feeling, writing lets you sidle up to it. It lets you feel your way around it, lets you touch it and get familiar with its outline, so that gradually, in time, the words come.

In my experience, forcing yourself to deal with The Thing before your mind is ready only makes The Thing bigger and more scary. A full-frontal assault is not the way.

Writing allows you to take the opposite approach: to coax, to invite, to befriend The Thing, so that instead of fighting yourself, you become your own ally.

Data collected over the last 50 years finds this again and again: writing is one of the most effective ways to process your life.

The data is conclusive: writing — particularly handwriting — improves cognition, assists in physical healing, and even in post-traumatic growth.

It improves your physical health, your mental wellbeing and your ability to connect with other people.

It moves you forward, without putting you through the wringer to get there.

, we’ve all got our stuff to deal with. Don’t make it harder on yourself than it needs to be. Write your way through it. Trust the page to lead you.

Writing goes where the mind won’t.