Some of the most effective tools of self-exploration are readily available and positively free. Want to love deeper, better, bigger? Try expressive writing.
“Let the world burn through you. Throw the prism light, white hot, on paper.”
—Ray Bradbury, WD
Writing itself is a learned behavior. It’s an essential part of our human communication process. Even in the most basic form, writing is imperative to self-awareness and culture. But it is so much more than simple correspondence; it can be used to evoke strong emotions and can help express feelings to partners you are otherwise unable to communicate.
In a sense, we are all writers. Even if you are not a professional, chances are good that you write something in your everyday life. And many of these situations may include a style called expressive writing.
Expressive writing is where you want to start when dealing with personal relationships of any kind. Expressive writing is one in which the writer gives no concern of proper structure, grammar, or punctuation. The writer may write down their thoughts freely, without the added stress of correct technique.
Poems, emails and birthday cards can all show forms of expressive writing; however, it’s not always easy to write with such freedom. Not everyone is a professional writer. Even the pros have their struggles as it can be scary to release your deepest thoughts and feelings—about anything, really, but especially another person. However, it doesn’t have to be impossible.
1. Understand the Goal
To begin expressive writing while dating you first need to understand your goal. Do not worry about whether or not someone else will enjoy it. Do not write with the motive to gain an audience. Write for you and only you. You may be writing to a significant other, but the idea is to be completely yourself.
If you are going through a big change in life or have muddled thoughts about a romantic event, it’s the perfect time to try expressive writing. Just remember to focus on yourself and how you are affected, not the other person.
2. Set a Time Limit
The next thing to consider is a time frame. Begin by writing for 20-30 minutes every day for at least four days. Some studies suggest five days, some say 15 minutes… it varies slightly from source to source, so try to stay within these general limitations so you may best evaluate your own experiences. Don’t write one page and click send.
You should always write about something personal. This is dating. You don’t need to discuss the weather. You need to get to know each other’s deepest thoughts. Write about a feeling you had during a certain important event. Concern yourself more with emotions than objects or people.
3. Keep Writing
If you run out of words or if you simply need a minute to think straight, take it. However, you will want to keep your momentum going. Doodle or draw lines on the page (or type randomness on the keys). This will give you motivation to continue.
And if ever you feel as if you are going to freak out, that’s okay. Stop if you need to. Don’t force a breakdown. No healthy romantic relationship should cause you to fall apart. You may need to let it out, but you also need to take care of yourself.
4. Dig Deep
Expressive writing in itself is difficult. To truly reap the benefits that it has to offer, you have to dig inside the emotional moments of your life. That’s not necessarily a fun or easy activity; but sometimes, to improve your own happiness and romantic life, this can be imperative to growth.
Many people probably ask themselves why on Earth they would want to spend time every day writing about life changing moments. Reliving the past may seem retroactive for some, and that’s understandable. The goal, however, is to make progress, not to dwell.
5. Keep Moving Forward
The mission with expressive writing the mission is to be able to move forward. You want to push your dating life to the next level, so you should aim to be heard and understood, even if your partner does not respond to your liking. This practice will help you sort through the muddy waters that dramatic and romantic situations can create.
Don’t be surprised if you find yourself a little bit down. The more write expressively, the more you may find yourself truly coming to terms with these deeper feelings. This process, though challenging, will act as a catalyst—the better you will know yourself and in turn, the better your significant other will know you.
But don’t start writing a diary entry. Even though you are venting emotions, write without that much thought. Diaries are often a place to tell your stories; but, expressive writing should be used less as a memory device and more as a healing one. The process will begin to manifest itself physically for those who commit to practicing it properly. Your body and mind and their health are connected. Expressive writing is a perfect example of this—and balance is key in any relationship, not only for the individual.
According to Baikie & Wilhelm (2005) “Expressive writing results in significant improvements in longer-term physical health outcomes, such as illness-related visits to the doctor, blood pressure, lung function and liver function.” It’s a kind of magic and medicine. It’s alchemy with words. And it can help anyone overcome the most difficult parts of the human experience.
The greatest thing about expressive writing is there will be no grades. No notes from editors or teachers. No opinions (unless you want them) and no one to tell you that you got it wrong. You can remain confident when expressive writing—even if the feelings you are writing about are less than proud, you will be able to sort through them in a safe, organic way. For those who feel judged when speaking aloud or suffer from social anxieties, expressive writing can be the gateway to finding lasting love.
About the Author
Kenneth Waldman is a professional content writer with over five years of experience and also a blog editor at essay writing service EssayMama writing service. His expertise includes education, marketing, and freelancing. You can get in touch with him on Linkedin.