Writing, a quiet observation

There is something about words, something fluid, warm, noble and pure.

Just a short while ago I was again reminded of my love for anything written, and how came to be.

Early on in life I was already a dedicated library lover. Living above one undoubtedly eased the path towards it, and almost instantly I became a bibliophile. Countless hours and days were spent searching and nurturing books.

When my Dutch language teacher put me on the spot in front of the whole class when I was 14 years old, he made me admit blame for a silly grammatical mistake, asking me if I had any dictionaries at home, and if so, why they weren’t on my desk when I wrote that particular essay. While I already spent half my childhood with a book in my hands, he taught me about the artistry of words by not only reading and writing even more, but by deliberately watching my words while I was writing. Many years later, I still value what he unintentionally did for me.

“Find out the reason that commands you to write;
see whether it has spread its roots into the very depth of your heart;
confess to yourself you would have to die if you were forbidden to write.”

(Rainer Maria Rilke)

Just as unwittingly, my illness came to be and writing took centre stage once more. Gone were the days of writing poetry for library events, present became the need to express what physically went on within me. Spreading awareness about MS by writing and helping the outside world see what life with a neurodegenerative illness is like, it certainly helped me do just that. I was firmly put on the road to writing once more, and I never looked back since.

I now daydream of writing a book, the physical act of writing, pen in hand, copy book ready, dreaming of what would happen next. Words flowing from my fingers onto my keyboard, a soft, silent murmur getting louder, a brief flicker of what’s taking place inside my unconscious mind.

“There is nothing to writing.
All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

(Ernest Hemingway)

I am now a firm believer of writing therapy; seeing things written down makes whatever goes in your mind, clearer. What you wrote cannot be unsaid in your mind, but it is up to you whether you want to share or not. It’s the first step in taking ownership of your thoughts, and your mind. The only thing you need is time, pen, paper or laptop, and the willingness to address what you’re struggling with.

Scientific research shows that writing can help boost your immune system. Even specific illnesses and/or symptoms caused by depression, anxiety and traumatic experiences can be dealt with by putting pen to paper. In my case, dealing with the aftermath of being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, subsequent relationship issues and the passing away of my only sibling, writing has helped so much that my GP now acknowledges that I am better equipped to deal with MS symptoms.

“I love writing. I love the swirl and swing of words
as they tangle with human emotions.”

(James A. Michener)

Many people experience paper as a very willing ear that listens without judging. The writer is in control of what happens next, it doesn’t require you to be there at a specific time or place. From studying Counselling, I was already aware of the many benefits of writing, but it was not until I mentally dedicated myself to pen and paper, that I realised the potential of writing therapy.

“Tears are words that need to be written.”
(Paulo Coelho)

Slowly but surely writing became a drug, not only one that is very easy to sustain, but one that doesn’t harm anyone. Bad memories disappeared; new, fresh and good ones are being created. What I do about running into bad memories is totally independent of what therapists would tell me to do. I can leave writing for another day, or choose to address it now. I can choose to keep what I wrote in a diary, or I can throw it into the garbage.

For people uninterested in seeking a therapist to tackle emotional issues, writing can indeed be very helpful, either as a stepping stone towards real-life therapy, or towards better insight in one’s mind. Any type of behaviour or emotion can be put to paper without fearing the outside world will find you weird or unable to communicate properly.

“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.”
(William Wordsworth)

Writing now is a daily reflection, a midnight thought turned into inspiration. By reading even more, writing can be greatly improved. Rereading old blog posts and catching one or two grammar issues turns me into my own critic, one that is not harsh but shows me that writing is a conscious process of unconscious ideas.

I don’t have to be a female Shakespeare or Tennyson, a Joyce or Yeats. As long as my mind can be improved upon by writing daily, my eyes will remain the only witness they always were: quiet, respectful and non-judgmental.

For more info on writing in general, please visit:
http://writing.ie

For more info on writing therapy, please visit these websites:
http://journaltherapy.com/journaltherapy/
http://twinstitute.net/
http://www.psychologytools.org/writing-therapy.html
http://www.createwritenow.com/
http://apt.rcpsych.org/content/11/5/338
http://psychcentral.com/lib/the-health-benefits-of-journaling/

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

About Billie ThumbnailAbout Willeke

Neurologically challenged by MS and personally by her will to succeed, Willeke is a disability awareness advocate seeking to improve neurological/MS services in Ireland. By highlighting difficult issues that come with such a diagnosis, she hopes her tenacity can bring some dignity to people most in need of a modern, inclusive healthcare system that looks after every aspect of life.

© WVE and Ireland, MS and Me, 2011-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to WVE and Ireland, MS and Me with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

20 Comments

  1. It’s funny I should read this because it goes hand in hand with something I’ve written but not yet posted to my blog. For the past couple of years, I’ve had real trouble finding the words I want when stressed. I’ve attributed it at least partially to my MS. Thankfully writing has always remained an outlet. I think it is at least partially the act of taking myself outside the situation to try and gain perspective enough to convey what I intend.

    It’s also possible my MS is simply blocking communications to or from the part of my brain dealing with the spoken word. My coworker’s dad had a stroke and wasn’t talking anymore. He was very frustrated at how his stutter made him feel stupid. It took too long, so he was increasingly just going mute. I suggested when she went to visit him that weekend, she should bring a dry erase board, pen and eraser. When she came back the next week, she thanked me and asked what made me think of it. All I could say was speaking and writing come from different parts of the brain. If the ideas were still forming, it seemed logical to try another highway to bring them to the surface.

    Like

    • Billie says:

      Thank you for your nice comment; it really helps seeing how other people cope with their illness and how inspirational they can be.

      Absolutely nice of you suggesting to try writing things down. Not many people realise that reading and writing happens in different parts of the human brain. Not being able to communicate properly must be so frustrating and I dread the day I will not be able to do so anymore. I feel that my freedom would be taken away if for some reason I would lose speech, but I intend not to dwell on the negative part of having MS and the possibility of it being the reason.

      Like you say, stepping outside of yourself and writing brings clarity. I’ve learned to strip whatever situation of emotion to see clear and it has helped big time, but writing has been key to really see things clear in my own mind.

      Like

    • Billie says:

      Isn’t it just? I am so grateful that others want to contribute to my blog because we are all human, and we all can learn from each other (I know, I tend to be philosophical about the human race :))

      Last night someone else suggested writing a book and hearing this again today has me thinking now. I’d love to do it and I will start on a very basic thing. I don’t want to run when I can only crawl right now :D)

      Like

  2. socialbridge says:

    I can empathise with so much you’ve written in that I see writing as being so therapeutic especially in relation to grief.
    I agree with Roy that you should get cracking on that book that;s brewing inside ~ just let it bleed! jx

    Like

    • Billie says:

      Jean, you are always so kind and supportive! :)

      Seeing as I lost a fairly good amount of people in my life, as well as pets and part of my health, I do find writing very therapeutic. I am astounded how much in all honesty. I suppose I was always going to write at some stage because of my love for reading, but it happened at the right time in my life, just when I needed it most. I’d advise anyone to try it out, even if it’s only gibberish in the beginning :)

      Like

  3. Teepee12 says:

    You write beautifully. And you are multi lingual? I am always impressed by anyone who masters more than one language, something at which I have totally failed. Book writing is also plotting, character building, and having something to say that needs more than 300 pages. I wrote a book, but it isn’t very good. It’s not terrible, but I’m not convinced the result was worth it considering the effort involved. Some of us have things to say better suited to short forms. Meanwhile, I happily continue to read your work and be insprired by it.

    Like

    • Billie says:

      Thank you so much for your always kind words! Having you as a dedicated follower really means a lot!

      Yes, English is my fourth language. My native one is my West-Flemish dialect; then Dutch; French; English; a little Italian and a little German. I’d love to learn Italian from scratch though!

      The great thing though is that you HAVE written a book, doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad, it’s still a book :)) I guess it’s something we all want to do in our lives at some stage?

      Like

  4. Kelly Connor says:

    Beautiful words-WRITE THAT BOOK!!. I understand, through you that there are people who write and people who enjoy reading. I used to read through enclyclopedias when I was younger-do people even use encyclopedias any more?! (our family had a set of World Books)-I enjoyed just looking up info I was interested in and I realize I enjoyed camping out in libraries, too! Writing can be therapeutic too! Love the blog!

    Like

    • Billie says:

      Started writing the book Kelly! And like you, I “read” encyclopaedias from front to back.I am sad they are now becoming the past with so much online info, but whenever I can, I still pick up a certain copy and start reading, Sigh… those were the days :D

      And thank you for your always positive comments! Always very much appreciated!

      Like

    • Billie says:

      It’s such a great outlet for the mind, isn’t it? I know find myself longing to sit down and write. It’s slowly becoming a tiny addiction :D

      And thank you for your kind words! With so many people saying I should write a book, I am working on something in my mind. Just need to get it down on paper now :D

      Like

        • Billie says:

          Same here, many pens waiting to be used, although I think I’ll do most of the writing on my laptop. Started with the proposal for the book, outlining who for, where, what, how etc. Great websites out there guiding you along… :D

          Like

  5. Rich says:

    You got it! (The skills and the perception.) Writing is a means of reflection, a way of looking at the world, and a discipline.

    I love your line: “Words flowing from my fingers onto my keyboard, seeing things take shape; it is a soft murmur getting louder, a flicker of my unconscious mind taking place.” That’s perfect!

    Like

    • Billie says:

      Thank you Rich! It really feels like words coming out of my fingers, like my brain is only part present in the writing process (even though it fully is though!) :D)

      Like

  6. Pingback: I am a writer! | Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me

  7. Pingback: A book, a book, my kingdom for a book! | Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me

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