5 Magical Ways Writing Out Your Thoughts & Emotions Can Change Your Life

Carolyn Ziel is a holistic coach and writer.
life-changing benefits of writings
Carolyn Ziel is a holistic coach and writer.

Writing coach Carolyn Ziel shares a story from her personal journal and underlines the power and benefits of writing that can change your life — from becoming smarter to healing wounds.

An Excerpt From Carolyn’s Journal

What is that? Those were the words I heard myself say. Something wasn’t right. I got still and tried to listen with my whole body. My eyes moving through the room, scanning the fixtures, the open medicine chest, my toothbrush, the lotions on the shelf, the glass of lemonade that I had deposited on the counter when I walked into the bathroom. The cloudy liquid was sloshing back and forth. That’s when I heard it—the earth right before she lets out a long sigh of air she’s been keeping in her lungs for too long—the creak, then the moan, then the distant rumble, then the roll, then the floor is moving under my feet. Earthquake! 

I remembered that you’re supposed to stand in a doorjamb and I jumped for the door. I waited, hoping that it would end. It didn’t. Then I remembered our bed. My husband built it.  “It’s the safest place in the house,” he once told me. It’s made of aluminum. It’s two feet off the ground. We all could fit under it, me, my husband, the cats. “If you’re under it and the house falls down, you’ll be fine.” He said. I think at the time he was joking. But I didn’t care.  I leapt into the hallway. I stood for a second, the floor undulating under me, I had to find my balance. The floor boards lifted to meet my feet as I made a run for the bedroom. I dropped and tucked myself under the bed. I lay there, face down, eyes closed. My arms bent into my ribs, my hands in fists, by my ears. I was holding a piece of tissue. My heart was pounding. My mouth was dry. I was flat on the ground, but I didn’t feel grounded. I waited for the earth to stop moving. I think I waited a long time. When it was over everything seemed too still. Like it might happen again. So I waited some more. When I figured it was really over, I extracted myself from under the bed.  

I know there are people who find earthquakes to be just a part of life, some even think that they’re fun. For me, they are unnerving. Terrifying even. After I crawled out from under the bed, turned on the local news, called my mother and my sister and texted my husband, who was on a plane flying home from Indiana, I opened my journal.

The Life-Changing Benefits Of Writing

Joan Didion said, “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.”

Writing is my go-to tool for sorting out how I feel. And in this instance it was helpful in dealing with what the urban dictionary calls, Seismophobia — fear of earthquakes. Writing has been my go-to since I can remember. I can’t count the number of journals I’ve filled with wonderings. The number of pages I’ve written about a broken heart and how I might heal it, about betrayals, grief, longing. About joy and what it feels like to sink into love. Writing has helped me to discover who I am, what I want, where I want to go, how I want to live and with whom. I believe I have written my life. 

I could write a book on the life-changing powers and benefits of writing. But for now, I’ll share these five ways that writing can change your life.

1. Writing Makes You Feel Good

There are numerous research studies that show writing engages the emotional center of the brain.

If you’re experiencing feelings of anger or sadness, writing will decrease the intensity of these feelings. Writing engages your thinking brain and will help your parasympathetic nervous system calm and relax the body.

During an earthquake I experienced the ‘fight-or-flight’ reaction of fear. By using writing to calm myself down, I was able to tap into my parasympathetic nervous system and counteract the stress response I was feeling.

Writing can make you happy. When you’ve sorted out your negative emotions, turn toward some positive ones. Write about things that make you happy. Write about what you appreciate in your life. Write about gratitude. Better yet, start a gratitude journal.  Remember, “Energy flows where attention goes.”

Read more: Discover six meaningful approaches of how to practice self-love every day.

2. Writing Is Great For People Who Like To Be In Control

With all the craziness in our world it can seem like you are out of control. (Especially after an earthquake.) That solid, sturdy, spiritual ground you rely on to support you isn’t so solid when it’s in motion. But, writing can help you make sense of it all. It can help you feel in control.

Start by writing a list of your fears. As human beings we have the power to change our thoughts. Review your list and write down all the ways that the fears you have aren’t accurate. You can also list ways to counteract the fears. Looking at your fears in writing, rebutting them with common sense, changing your thoughts through the written word and knowing that you’re prepared for what comes next will help.

Keep writing. Write about specific outcomes. How you want to feel. How you want to think. What you want to let go of — like control.

3. Writing Makes You Smarter!

Especially if you write by hand. I like to say it’s like writing on your brain. Writing notes in class, writing information down in your own words helps to assimilate and consolidate it and you’re more likely to retain that knowledge.

Writing also improves vocabulary. Unlike speaking, when you write, you tend to look for more sophisticated words and expressions to describe how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking. Over time you’ll be able to communicate in a more effective manner.

Meditate with Carolyn: You find it hard facing a blank page? These hand-picked meditations led by Carolyn Ziel help to turn toward your creative process with a new found outlook and let your imagination flourish:

  1. Mindfulness In Your Creative Practice Carolyn Ziel 10:36
  2. Surrendering To Your Creative Process Carolyn Ziel 10:41
  3. Let's Set An Intention: To Be Love In The Room Carolyn Ziel 10:01

4. Writing Can Help You Heal

In one study by the journal of Psychosomatic Medicine in 2013, expressive writing improved wound healing in older adults and women. I find that fascinating. The power of the written word. Not just as we read, which can be healing in itself, but now to know that by writing we can have the power to heal not just our minds, but our bodies. That, my friends is the magic of writing!

5. You Can Write Your Life!

Writing is powerful. Writing an intention is like creating a vision board on steroids.

If you just THINK about your goals and dreams you’re only using the imaginative center, the right hemisphere of your brain. When you write your visions, you tap into the left hemisphere, the logic-based portion of your brain. You open up your subconscious mind to seeing opportunities that you might not have seen before. Things start to fall into place.

You receive what you’ve asked for and you are living the life you have always dreamed of, as if by magic!

Invite The Magical Benefits Of Writing Into Your Life

Hemingway wrote 500 words a day. If you do that, by the end of a year, you’ll have written 182,500. That’s a lot of words.

Elizabeth Gilbert said, “The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.” If you were to write 500 words a day, I wonder what hidden gems you might find. 

Give it a try and please reach out to me as I’d love to hear your experiences with writing. 


Read more: Carolyn Ziel does not only share her wisdom of the benefits of writing on this blog. She also explains the benefits and difficulties of stepping outside of your comfort zone and outlines three helpful writing prompts to begin your journey.

Meditation. Free.