A few nights ago, I attempted to write a blog post about my first month as a freelance mum. I wanted to reflect on returning to freelancing and share some insights about the experience.
But nothing I wrote sounded right. My thoughts were disjointed. My words felt forced. Flow eluded me, and when my ‘insights’ hit the page I realised they were just simple observations. Not particularly insightful, nor particularly unique. Just part of the journey.
I spent hours typing, but I ended the night with a blank page. I felt so disappointed. What a waste of time, right? I could have been reading a book, hanging out with Tom, sleeping – all things I need more of in my life right now. I felt cheated, as only a new mama with limited free time can feel cheated.
But the next morning, I felt lighter. I was no longer weighed down by my thoughts. I’d cleared away a lot of subconscious baggage that was taking up valuable headspace.
Writing without sharing is extremely cathartic. It’s like free therapy. You can write whatever you like! There are no rules!
As someone who writes for a living, it’s a breath of fresh air to write with a wild, reckless, this-will-never-see-the-light-of-day abandon. Better out than in, I say.
Before Zoey, I would start each day with half an hour of writing in my journal. I’d pour my thoughts onto the page so I could find some peace from the internal chatter before I started my ‘real work’.
Since becoming a mum that internal chatter has quadrupled in quantity and volume, but I’ve fallen out of the habit of journalling. Some days my mind sounds like it’s home to a crowd of raucous kids all fighting for my attention (a glimpse of my future life, perhaps?).
Maybe this experience – my failed attempt at writing a coherent blog post – was the universe tapping me on the shoulder and saying: Psst, Jess, the writing you keep private is perhaps the most important writing of all.
Write for (self) love
If you’re writing to quieten your internal chatter, it doesn’t matter whether anyone reads your words. The healing power of writing is in the process, not the result. It’s easy to fall into the trap of sharing everything (if you didn’t Instagram your food, did you really eat it!?) but the conversations we have with ourselves in private are sacred and deserve our full attention.
I realise now that writing for myself falls into the same camp as eating well and exercising – it’s a form of self-care.
And, like eating veggies and getting my butt to yoga class, it’s not always easy. But enjoying some peace from the internal chatter? That’s worth it every time.
One page of writing can give me a day of clarity. That’s a pretty good exchange, right?
My journalling tips
If you’ve never journalled before – or you’ve fallen out of the habit – here are some tips for writing for yourself:
Invest in a gorgeous journal and a good quality pen. Beautiful stationery will make the process feel all the more special (trust me!)
Get comfortable. My favourite place to journal is in bed with a cup of tea.
Write whatever comes to mind. There are no rules. Write your truth, even if it’s problematic. No, especially if it’s problematic. Remember, better out than in!
Write by hand if you can. Typing feels like work. Writing by hand feels like play.
Pay zero attention to grammar, spelling, format. Remember, no one is going to read this – it’s the process that’s important, not the end result.
If you’re struggling, set a time limit. Commit to just five or ten minutes. You’ll be amazed at what comes up.
I sincerely believe that the simple habit of writing for yourself has healing powers. Promise me you’ll try it some time?
P.S. If you’d like some gentle support to help the words flow, especially when writing about monumental personal events such as giving birth or coping with change, then watch this space. I’m working on a few writing guides that I hope to make available in the coming months. Sign up to my newsletter (see below) to stay in the loop.