Storytelling: Writing To Heal Your Life

“There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you.” -Z.N. Hurston

healing writing | Dianna Bonny Photography

I was recently asked an interesting question about my healing process. What is something I did to begin and where exactly did I start?

The answer is writing. In many ways, I wrote my way to healing. Not only on this blog but also in my journal, which is a treasure map of information.

Something happens when we put pen to paper, or fingertip to keyboard. It is very different than conversations in the mind, which have a tendency to go in endless circles. Writing seems to channel another energy.

I often hear people say, “Oh, I’m not a writer,” or “I’m a terrible writer.” The magic about writing for healing is that you don’t have to “be” a writer or be good at it. It is something you give yourself permission to do by wrapping yourself in curiosity and then, most important of all: surrendering to the process.

“Storytelling is healing. As we reveal ourselves in story, we become aware of the continuing core of our lives under the fragmented surface of our experience. We become aware of the multifaceted, multichaptered ‘ I ‘ who is the storyteller. We can trace out the paradoxical and even contradictory versions of ourselves that we create for different occasions, different audiences… Most important, as we become aware of ourselves as storytellers, we realize that what we understand and imagine about ourselves is a story. And when we know all this, we can use our stories to heal and make ourselves whole.”

-Susan Wittig Albert

When I step up to the blank page, I view it as part playground to explore and part laboratory to learn. I place no expectations or judgment on what I write and give myself the freedom to be really awful without allowing myself to get swept away by my feelings about the quality of the writing.

What usually happens is this: When I am walking, which I love to do to for inspiration, I let my mind wander and, quite frequently, I will land on a particular topic or scene from the past that is bothering me. I just begin to observe it and go deeper into what is troubling me about this moment.

I carry paper or 3×5 cards with me because I always have writing ideas out there on the trail, especially if I don’t have paper. There is a community club on my route and I have had to walk in and ask the manager for a pen and paper many times. I’m sure she thinks I am crazy. I just jot down the ideas that come and when I get home I begin to string them together.

It is quite magical.

The other day my friend and I were talking about this process and she inadvertently crossed up the words thinking and feeling. The result was “theeling,” and I think this is a good way to describe what happens with writing about events that need clarity. One can’t just think their way into a better space, we have to open to our feelings. Writing in this way becomes a process of allowing the thinking to be woven with the feelings: theeling.

Often, when I write I am surprised when I go back and read it because I have sense that it has come from somewhere beyond me and the insights can be astounding.

Writing in this way is connecting you with your take on the world, so simply begin with what you know to be true. These prompts have helped me:

“Here’s how it happened to me…”

“Here’s how it felt…”

Give yourself the freedom to experiment and listen to the quietest corner of your heart – the place where your truth lives. Have courage and fling open the cellar door to your deepest truths and write them down so the universe can bathe them in healing light and love.

Our stories are begging to be told and healing begins in the micro-moments contained in these stories, the space in between the words, where the emotion lives.

Do you use writing as a way to make sense of the world? Do you have a helpful practice you can share?


“The reason for evil in the world is that people are not able to tell their stories.” -Carl Gustav Jung

Who is Dianna Bonny?

Hi, my name is Dianna Bonny. It’s my mission to candidly share my journey with you. For me, it’s all about the healing: to create a radiant healing energy for others who have befallen a similar fate. Together, we can forge beautiful lives of belonging and connection. Thanks for joining me today! I look forward to hearing from you.

  6 comments for “Storytelling: Writing To Heal Your Life

  1. September 2, 2013 at 11:09 am

    Really helpful post Dianna. I appreciate your prompt questions. I can always use good places to start.

    I “get” what you mean about writing yourself to healing, and about re-reading what you’ve written and being astonished. Yep! Done that…

    I also just had to share that the Susan Wittig Albert quote made me smile — and for two reasons. I’ve used it myself in a few writing groups I facilitated, and I was a member of her Story Circle Network writing circles for several years and that’s where I developed my poetry practice.

    Thank you!

    • Dianna Bonny
      September 2, 2013 at 8:16 pm

      Tracie: I’m so glad to hear that you know of Susan. I only came across her quote and thought it was a brilliant description of the process. You must write beautiful poetry if you follow her. Also glad you have been astonished! It is a magical process, isn’t it? Thank you for sharing your thoughts. xo

  2. September 3, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    Hi Dianna,
    Inspiring post! I also have that out-of-body experience after writing some of my pieces, especially the creative non-fiction work.
    Joanne 🙂

    • Dianna Bonny
      September 3, 2013 at 4:13 pm

      Hi Joanne: Thank you! I am glad you have had the experience too. It keeps writing interesting and rewarding. Glad you stopped by. xo

  3. October 30, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    Hi Dianna,

    I have been writing in a journal off and on for about 12 years and I have found it to be profoundly healing. However, starting a blog this year has really been opening for me. I think when we find the courage to let our expression be seen and heard, the healing is exponential.

    I love Julia Cameron’s books, The Artists Way and The Right to Write – both of these have exercises in them that really encourage writing. I come back to these any time I need a reminder of why writing is so important to me. 🙂

    Thanks for the encouragement! (and btw – I run with one of those tiny recorders because my greatest ideas always come when I’m outside running or walking – that recorder is a life saver!)

    • Dianna Bonny
      October 30, 2013 at 5:20 pm

      Oh, love Julia’s books too! Mine are dog eared and over the top highlighted! I should probably try the recorder method – I carry 3×5 cards and a pen with me on my walks and it can be tricky to capture all the ideas. Thanks for sharing! xo

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