I love to write. I’ve come to believe that the writing process is essential to my health and well-being, much like good digestion or sunlight. Sure, I don’t have to write, but my life and the world inside my skin is a much happier place when I do.
I’ve come to treat writing as a daily ritual, and even though I often want to call a piece done as soon as I bang out a draft, I always let it sit at least a week before returning to it and revising. As an introvert, writing helps me process things at my own pace. I can set even my most turbulent and muddy thoughts down on the page, then release it for a while. When I return to it, the seas have calmed, the sediment has settled, and I can see my feet, where I stand, in the clearer water. I make adjustments, and then sometimes I share.
My friend Robbie once shared with me an exercise she had learned. Think of an event in your life that still upsets you—perhaps even a regret—and write that story. After you finish writing that piece of your history, rewrite it: change your ending, change your outcome, transform the situation.
I found this a very challenging idea because it seemed sort of dishonest at first, like an exercise in denial or wishful thinking. I had to chew on it for a while, hold it between my cheek and my jaw and let it soften. Perhaps the rewriting exercise helps the individual discover the specific spot on the memory that is still most poignant and hurtful. In locating the splinter, perhaps it can be pulled.
Although I don’t change the details of my stories when I write, I do often change my heart. Wanting to write from a place of being present and honest, I turn a floodlight onto my own mind, thoughts, assumptions, those inadvertent ticks of defensiveness and judgment. Why am I jumping to this conclusion? Why do I get defensive here? Do I feel apologetic?
My inner landscape changes, shifts. The story is the same, but the narrator is new. The picture has been reframed.