A beginner’s guide to embodied writing 

By Sarah Cannata

If embodied writing is not journaling or diary writing, then what is it? As a writer, I’ve found myself jumping and falling off the journaling or diary writing bandwagon over and over again. I’ve successfully completed 30-day challenges and other writing streaks. And at a certain point, these forms of writing become inevitably, well… boring. 

The thing is, my life is fairly uneventful (by choice). I work a lot and chat with friends mostly online due to being in different locations. I spend my free time either tidying up work odds and ends or engaging in some form of relaxation (YouTube, watching Australian Rules Football etc). So, for me, with journaling and diary writing, I often find myself writing about the same things over and over again. Then, I reach a point where I’ll think to myself; I’m living this. Do I really need to be writing about it and reliving it over and over again?

And then I made the switch to embodied writing

Everything changed. Yes, I’m still writing, but the focus is less on brain dumping and more on tuning into my body as I’m writing. My approach may look slightly different each time I sit down and write. An essential part of this process is allowing the body to guide you and to move with the flow of the body. I often set an intention to remain open and curious. This prevents me dictating where my writing will go before I even begin. 

So, in practice, what might embodied writing look like? Before I begin writing, I always ensure I have a place of safety, support and comfort to return to if I am triggered (my resource). Finding this place of safety, comfort and support can look like different things for different people and can change over time. I start writing whatever comes to me, making note of what’s happening in my body as I continue writing. With any sensations or feelings that arise, I remain curious and detail them. I pay attention to whether certain words exacerbate the sensations. If I’m triggered and feel overwhelmed at any point in time (as in, wanting to dissociate from my body), I return back to my resource where I lean into that safety, support and comfort.

What to expect

Like life, healing is rarely a linear process. Everyone’s healing experience is unique; however, some people may feel a sense of overwhelm when engaging in this work. This is especially true for people with a dysregulated nervous system who’ve been in a chronic freeze or fawn response for years. Over time, the body develops an ability to stuff and hold everything down. When we begin feeling the body again, it can feel like a volcanic eruption, and we may feel overloaded.

Why is this happening?

Healing is a gradual process. Embodied writing is not a quick fix. It’s not a ‘fix’ at all because I don’t believe anyone needs to be ‘fixed.’ This is a lifestyle. With time and practice, we can develop techniques and tools that help us to calm our system when we’re in an overwhelmed state. By growing in capacity, you will be better equipped to digest previously undigested experiences.

Write Your Way to Healing Quick Start Guide PDF

My Write Your Way to Healing Quick Start Guide teaches busy people like you how to use embodied writing as a healing tool. By ’embodied writing,’ I mean being aware of the physical body while writing. In just five easy-to-follow steps, this PDF arms you with the basics for writing your way to healing and includes writing prompts to get you started. Set aside 10 minutes daily (or whatever you can manage) to write. Both seasoned writers and novices can benefit from this approach to writing. Set aside 10 minutes daily (or whatever you can manage) to write. 

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