What do you think of when you think of a writer? Maybe you imagine Hemingway at the bull fights. Or J.K. Rowling dreaming up her boy wizard. Or Stephen King thinking of some gruesome new way to horrify us. You might imagine someone alone in a room scribbling madly or pounding away at a keyboard—or pulling their hair out when the ideas just won’t come.
We Are All Writers
But there is a good chance you don’t think of yourself. Most of us don’t think of ourselves as writers. This is true even though many of us write quite a lot—everything from tweets and status updates to résumés and annual reports. Heck, even your shopping list (whether you write it by hand or peck it into your phone) is a form of writing.
Okay, okay, you may be thinking. We get it. We’re all writers. What’s your point?
Fair enough. Our point is this: writing, in the form of a recovery journal, can help you stay on track with your recovery. And since we agree that you are already a writer—what with the tweets and all—it should be pretty easy to get started.
Wait. A Recovery Journal? What’s That?
We’re glad you asked. A recovery journal can be many things—and any or all of them may be helpful to you, especially in the early days of your recovery journey.
A recovery journal might just be a diary—a place where you write down your thoughts about what went on during the day, notes about important events that took place, your musings on your latest crush (or maybe not). This type of straightforward diary-keeping can help you quiet the mind by helping you put your daily milestones and challenges (recovery-related or not) down on paper rather than letting them spin around in your mind.
Stream of Consciousness Journal
Alternately, you might keep a stream of consciousness journal. It works like this: you set aside some time each day (even just 10 minutes) to sit and write down anything and everything that comes to mind. It doesn’t have to make sense. Nothing has to connect to anything else. Maybe you note that you have to go to the store. Maybe you note that you are annoyed with your boss. Maybe you note that you are looking forward to seeing a friend in a couple of days. Whatever comes to mind, that is what you write down. By doing so, you may discover ideas and patterns of thought you were unaware of. It’s a great way to get the creative juices flowing and also a way to get at things you may be keeping from yourself. By doing so, you can avoid letting those things trip you up on your recovery journey.
You could keep a gratitude journal. Expressing gratitude is an important part of recovery, and a gratitude journal gives you a time and place to reflect on what and who you are grateful for. Keeping gratefulness at the top of your mind provides a strong defense against cravings and other temptations that might threaten your sobriety. After all, odds are you feel pretty grateful for that sobriety.
Maybe your recovery journal will take the form of a kind of stat sheet where you keep track of things like your eating habits, your exercise program, and your sleep schedule to make sure you stay on track. Writing down your successes can keep you motivated to keep going. Setbacks you set down on paper can motivate you to get back on track. Given that good nutrition, regular exercise, and restful sleep all support your recovery, it is worth the effort to stay aware of how you are doing in all three areas. This type of recovery journal might also double as your daily planner.
And finally, maybe you take issue with the notion that you are a writer (we still think you are). That is just fine. Maybe an art journal is for you. You can draw or paint or doodle or make collages. Those artistic expressions—no matter how simple or elaborate—can help you tap into your emotions and process them in a healthy manner. Having an artistic practice is a great way to fend off boredom and find personal satisfaction, even if you never share your work with anyone else.
But What If I Want to Share My Writing With Someone Else?
Good question! It is certainly possible that once you get into the swing of writing (or making art) you will discover that you would, in fact, like to share your work with other readers and writers. Maybe you’ll try your hand at crafting personal essays in which you share your story of moving past a substance use disorder. Maybe you’ll want to try some poetry. Or maybe you’ll dream up stories that will make people laugh or feel the excitement of an adventure or shudder with horror.
If your writing takes one of these—or any of a huge number of other—directions, odds are there are like-minded folks in your community who also love to write and to share their work. The Indiana Writers Center, for example, may be able to help you get started.
Write This Down: We Are Here to Help
At Wooded Glen Recovery Center, we are confident that a substance use disorder is not the end of your story. We offer the personalized, compassionate care and expertise you need to change the direction of your personal plotline. Every story has its ups and downs, but we are confident we can help you start a recovery journey that heads in the direction of happily ever after.