What does writing do for us?
It is a complicated question, because writing can be a complicated process. We sometimes think it always reflects reality because it is our reality. And it is important for us to express ourselves with rawness at times. We need to pour out what we are experiencing, because it can help us document and process. Full processing doesn’t happen all at once as we pour the words onto paper. Writing is one part of the process.
Writing includes an invitation to explore. We can’t fully process as we write much of the time. And that is okay. The process depends a bit on the purpose for a writing. If we truly want to heal and grow through our writing, we have to loop back on it. We don’t dwell in it, but we revisit it. We place it in different contexts over time to keep it in check. We invite accountability. Even if we never share with others, there is accountability, because we live our story and the impact it’s had. We move on but in the context of our past experiences. We should never reside in the past, but in order to grow healthily, we revisit it. The truth doesn’t change, but the way we’re able to deal with it and the depth to which we’re able to heal changes with time. To ignore the past ignores parts of our present.
If we end up sharing what we write, of course, we need accountability. It was essential for Fractured Into Wholeness to be read by at least a dozen people prior to its release. Some were close to the details as they happened. I asked them to pull out anything they questioned as accurate. Others held me accountable to character and faith. Others focused on the structure and flow from any future readers’ perspective. Oddly, when I shared the draft with the varied group, I felt more free than vulnerable. By inviting others to hold me accountable, I was sharing responsibility, and the community experience comforted me. Living it in real time was much more difficult than sharing it.
A recent movie I watched included this statement about writing.
Writing is where I go to be honest about how I feel. Sometimes it’s really the only way for me to know what it is that I’m feeling. Like I have to write in order to see what I’m gonna write. If that makes any sense at all. I find that it’s a lot easier to write the truth than it is to say it out loud. Nobody can take writing away from you. Nobody can tell you that you’re wrong, or your words are wrong. Your words are right, because they’re yours.
We invite accountability for many reasons. No one has our same experiences, but we live alongside others, and those people can help us process so that what we express is consistent with what has happened. Others can help us process by asking questions, either those they personally have or those others might have. And if we write only for ourselves, as mentioned earlier, we still invite accountability as we live alongside others and share in other ways than our specific written words.
Writing for ourselves feels good at times, and privacy absolutely has its place. Writing (and living) among others is important for our process and growth. Otherwise we might become stagnant in our own perspective and even distort it into what best fits what we want our narrative to be for our own benefit. But that doesn’t help anyone. In fact, it can be harmful.
Writing is a humbling experience, as is living out loud. It could become unhealthy when truth and accountability are not intentionally pursued. But when they are, it can be a beautiful journey for many far beyond the writer.
Perhaps there is something God is prompting you to write today, whether you share or not.