Writing to Release
On Writing,  That's Life,  THOUGHTS,  Writing to Release

Writing as Therapy – Releasing our Thoughts on Paper

Writing to Release


Writing to Release


We use our writing to convey our thoughts, ideas, and to tell stories. For many of us, writing is a personal outlet to communicate our feelings and opinions. Writing can be a therapeutic exercise, enabling us to release what may be stifling our well-being,  offering us freedom to release our locked up emotions onto paper.

An abundance of articles and books have been written on helpful methods to release our inner turmoil. Using methods such as writing a letter to ourselves or directly to someone whom we feel we need to express our thoughts and feelings about circumstances that plague us internally is an excellent release. I’ve used this method on several occasions, beginning in my childhood, going straight into my adult years before I even realized the value of the therapeutic benefits.

Many of us have issues with confronting people with our personal feelings and need an outlet to release these feelings within, whether they be feelings of angst or affection. As a child growing up in a dysfunctional home environment, I often wanted to confront my mother about my feelings and opinions, but never mustered the courage to do so.

I began writing letters to her. After writing each one of them, I felt as though a great burden had been lifted off of my sub-conscience just by getting my feelings out of my head and onto the paper. I never sent her any of them.

Whether we are introverts or extroverts, at times, we all harbor thoughts that plague us that would serve us better if we could release them. Our minds sometimes become clouded with unanswered questions, doubts, and feelings of neglect from bruised emotions. When we don’t have an outlet or ears for us to vent to, or often, the courage to confront, writing becomes the savior of our soul.

I know many of us grew up with similar fears of their parents that I had with my own mother. Having no platform to speak out  on can be disheartening, and leave long-term hurt to surmount and fester within. Our feelings of powerlessness and intimidation to approach people with our thoughts hampers our confidence levels and often our self-esteems when there is no outlet to release and have our thoughts validated or repaired by communication.

Writing became my voice to replace my fears of confrontation. It began as a child with emotional fears and continued through my earlier romantic relationships. I was uncomfortable with declaring my feelings to a partner, because it was all I’d known from childhood – afraid to speak my opinion and feelings. I found the act of writing those letters come in handy throughout those earlier relationships. I refrained from ever sending or giving one of my letters to my mother, but I learned to give them to my partners. The words I had no courage to speak out loud, spoke for me in my letters. And the right partners were the ones who responded to my words, eventually enabling me to become more comfortable and willing to express myself vocally.

Not everyone is compassionate. Not everyone wants to hear what we have to say. But when we open our heart to someone with our words and we receive positive feedback and acknowledgement, it’s a great stepping stone to opening the lines of verbal communication beginning with that person, instilling a gained confidence to speak out loud to others.

My writing has helped to free my spirit that was once stifled with fear and anxiety, holding me back from speaking my thoughts and feelings. Writing is the gift of empowerment. Whether we write letters, keep a journal of our thoughts and feelings or write complete stories, they are all effective avenues to communicate about what resides within us. Eventually, our words will connect with the appropriate receivers, and for those not open to receive . . .well, at least we’ve released our internal burden and we leave the ball in their court with a chance for them to hear what we have to say. With any luck, we’ve opened the lines of communication. We can feel lighter knowing we’ve released. 

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D.G. Kaye is a nonfiction/memoir writer, who writes from her own life experiences and self-medicates with a daily dose of humor.


  • rbnbookmark

    Good post. I thoroughly agree, you see it was a family tragedy and the aftermath that led me to writing my debut book. It helped enormously…..but emotionally draining in ever sense.

  • Aui V.

    I can relate very well Debby! When things are very hard, I always turn to my pen and my journal. I started doing this since I am 9 and I think this writing on my journal save my life more than I can imagine. Thank you for sharing this article and I’m so glad to read your blogs again.

  • Vashti Q

    Excellent and insightful post, Debby. I used to write letters also. As a preteen and teen, I was very shy and felt socially awkward. I never confronted those that hurt or offended me. Instead, I wrote letters telling them how I felt. I never gave them the letters—no one ever saw them, but I always felt better after writing them. Eventually, I learned to speak up and defend myself, but I am still better at expressing myself through my writing.

    • dgkaye

      OMG Vashti, I never realized how similar we were in our young teens. I’m so with you on writing letters without even sending gives us a chance to free our souls from bottled up to letting our thoughts out. In many spiritual books I read over the years that mention things like writing to release, I’ve also read that for those who write but don’t send letters, you can make a ritual of burning the letter after it’s written to let go completely.
      Thanks for sharing Vashti. And sorry, I just found your comment in spam! 🙂 <3

      • Vashti Q

        Yes, I can see we did have a lot in common and probably still do in many ways. I have read similar things. It made me feel better knowing I wasn’t crazy for doing that. Ha, ha! Don’t worry about it. I’m like a magnet for spam recently. I don’t know what it is. 😀 xx

  • Smorgasbord - Variety is the Spice of Life.

    Excellent post as always Debby… I found it very difficult when we came back from South Africa to rural Lancashire and yet another school to communicate in written English very well. So I began to write poetry and short stories which I kept private as a way of expressing myself without being marked for it.. the practice helped. I will reblog later in the week. ♥♥

  • D. Wallace Peach

    Great post, Debby. I’ve had insights through journaling that changed my life. It’s so incredibly powerful. I can imagine that memoir-writing is intense in a way that fiction can’t quite touch. <3

    • dgkaye

      Thanks Diana. Looking at our work later in retrospect is a lot like letting a manuscript marinate and going back to edit. Often we find ourselves puzzled saying, ‘Did I write that?’ And yes, there is something liberating about writing raw truth. It also takes a lot of guts to publish when their is no fictional guise to hide behind. 🙂 xx

      • Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC

        Guts indeed to publish what you’ve written in memoir fashion! I don’t know that I could do it, although I wrote in much the way you described in this post – journaling for the most part, but letters to a few early beaus as well. At times it seemed almost as if I wasn’t sure what I thought and felt until I read what I had written. As Diana commented, over the years there were many insights that changed my life.

        I’m glad you posted this one to the Senior Salon – so easy to jump here from there.
        (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
        ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
        “It takes a village to transform a world!

  • olganm

    Great post, Debby. I’ve recommended it to many of my patients too. For me, writing fiction helps me get through hard times, sometimes, as it is much easier to keep control of the world we create than the one we live in (well, sometimes!). Thanks.

  • Chuck

    Hi Debbie,
    I can identify with your fear. Growing up, I too was scared to confront my parents. I’m not sure if that is why I have a passive aggressive personality. I learned to deal with my fears and losses by writing in a journal. Then I began writing letters to my parents, but I did mail them. I was told later, that when my mother received them, she would throw them in the trash unopened. She did the same with my birthday, mother’s day and christmas cards. I have moved on with my life and the past does not haunt me or control me as it did in the past. Great post, thanks for sharing. HUGS

    • dgkaye

      HI Chuck. Thanks for sharing, and I’m so sorry to hear your letters and cards were thrown away. Some parents don’t value the privilege that it is to be a parent. I admire your courage to even send your letters, I just couldn’t. I was too afraid of what I’d hear back from her, wasn’t worth the elevated anxiety level it would cause me. I’m so glad to hear that you too have found a way to move on with your life and don’t have to be saddled with the hurt for the rest of your life. It took me years, but I’m good. Sadly, there are many who haven’t found a way to heal. I hope books like ours can at least help others in some small way. 🙂 Hugs back! 😉 x

      • Chuck

        Finding a way out is part of my blog “Do you carry emotional baggage?” At some point in life, we just got to ‘take the bull by the horns’. No one that doesn’t respect you is worth the heartaches. There are too many out there to share love and happiness to waste it on someone who can’t see beyong their own nose. Keep them hugs coming.

    • dgkaye

      That is therapy D. You may not have intent to write to release in particular, but when our hearts or heads are loaded with things niggling in our minds, often we find that whatever we’re writing is going to relate. 🙂

  • reocochran

    I like to write and it does help to get things out in the open, thoughts and feelings need to be expressed! I value your friendship and wanted to let you know I posted (11/1/17) about my Fall reading pile of books! I will be taking your book on my trip. . . I hope to get a really cool photo of your book with a plane, attendant, ticket taker or security guard. ?

    • dgkaye

      Robin, I know your writing and you have a beautiful style of telling your stories. And I’m thrilled to be in your reading pile! I take it you’ll be reading my little travel memoirs? How cool would that be to have a photo taken with that book? I hope you do it and I’d love to post it on my own blog after you do. When are you leaving? 🙂 x

  • Adele Marie

    I agree. I find the act of writing a letter and then setting fire to it, outside of course, believing that the bad memories will go with the smoke and turn into butterflies. xxx

  • Sue Dreamwalker

    Debby you have no idea how this post resonated.. Knowing some of my back story as you do,, I wrote many letters, asking why, and venting, letting all that I held within go onto paper.. I wrote Angel letters that I would burn,..
    Writing releases our emotions allows us to let go, and in letting go we become Freeeeeee!!! <3 xxx

  • Tina Frisco

    How true, Deb. Writing can be our savior. I wrote songs and poems as a child, and the satisfaction I felt served as the acknowledgement I didn’t receive from others. Finding receptive ears and hearts was indeed a blessing for you. I, for one, am grateful you did ♥♥

  • macjam47

    A great post, Debby. So many times people use their power or position to intimidate us, and for whatever reason, we are unable to respond. Writing a letter or journaling is a great way to express what we otherwise are unable to say and thus give us some peace of mind and empower us to move on.

  • Bernadette

    I have always found it safer to express myself in a written form. Sometimes I am to impulsive when speaking. Writing gives me the time to self reflect and choose the words that really interpret my feelings.

    • dgkaye

      Hi Bernadette. Thanks for chiming in here. I agree. Writing our thoughts gives us time to reflect and choose our words more carefully so we can extract exactly what it is we want to say. 🙂

  • balroop2013

    I can’t tell you how much therapy my own words have done for me Deb…I have poured all my joy and anguish into A to Z…isn’t it amazing how 26 letters can carry all the thoughts of the world! 🙂 Happy writing dear friend.

    • dgkaye

      No doubt my beautiful writer friend. I know how you write, and I know first-hand how therapeutic it is. Writing is akin to self-help. Happy weekend my compassionate friend. 🙂 xx

  • Terri Webster Schrandt

    Sorry so late in reading and replying, Debby! Loved this post and what it stands for! Even folks who do not feel like they can write, the act of even jotting thoughts on paper can be cathartic for many. I often ask myself why I blog, etc, but deep down I know the answer, I just want to capture ideas on paper along with some cool images and that’s what helps float my boat. Lovely writing, Deb, and so helpful to many!

  • Jennie

    Debby! This is such an important post. And, many of your readers were in your shoes and now can find a way to heal and move forward. I wonder if my enjoyment in writing is connected to my childhood of low self esteem and painful shyness. Thank goodness I found a writing path, and have dusted off those traits of long ago. Did you save your letters?

    • dgkaye

      Thanks Jennie. It certainly seems that writing feelings has been a part of many of our lives. I think when we look back on our things we’ve written in the past, it helps us fill in a lot of blanks to things that lingered with our sub-conscience. Even in fiction, we find truth.
      No, I never saved any of those letters I wrote. I burnt many of them to release. It was my writing I’d saved about my mother that I kept which aided in my writing my first book, Conflicted Hearts. 🙂 x

  • Judy E Martin

    I totally agree, Debby, writing down our thoughts is very therapeutic. A couple of years ago during NANOWRIMO I wrote all about my abusive first marriage, but as if it were a fiction novel. It was all based on what happened to me. Although it was hard re-living some of the things that happened, it was good to let those feelings out. 🙂

    • dgkaye

      Thank you Judy for sharing yourself here. I’m so sorry to hear about your abusive marriage, but am happy to learn you got out! And you’re just another example that writing can free our souls. Yes, I know all about painful writing, but there is much to be said for the cathartic release. 🙂 Many writers share their thoughts, life, worries, in their writing. You know what they say, ‘There’s truth in fiction”. 🙂 <3

  • Mary Smith

    Excellent post, Debbie. I know how powerful and therapeutic writing can be. I kept a diary from when I was very young. At first it was simply things like: Had breakfast, went to school, came home, did homework… Later, though I found it was a useful way of sorting out my thoughts and feelings.

    • dgkaye

      Thanks Mary. Often when we’re kids, diaries are the things that first spark our interest to journal our daily activities. I think for those who enjoyed the diary writing and found a passion for writing, we move up to journaling thoughts and from there, we can go anywhere. 🙂

  • Deborah Jay

    What a great post, Deb. It puts into words something I think I knew instinctively but have never really faced head on.
    Due to certain events in my childhood (not at home) I learned to repress emotions and I’ve never found it easy to overcome that. I believe I transfer those emotions onto the characters in my novels because its so much easier to let them go on paper than in the real world. So yes, my writing is a great therapeutic outlet, thanks for putting that into perspective. 🙂

    • dgkaye

      Thanks so much for sharing Deb. It’s really amazing how the writing process can be cathartic as writers. Release in writing isn’t only from journaling but in many forms as other have commented here and you as well with allowing your characters to evoke the emotions you carry within. Just one more method of releasing. Thanks again Deb. 🙂 xx

  • Norah

    Lovely post, Debby. I wholeheartedly agree. I used to pour my heart out on the page, to be read by nobody but me. I don’t do so much of that anymore, not private journaling anyway, and I keep my private life out of blogging. Maybe I should return to pouring my heart out onto the paper again and see what happens.
    What I really love about this post is your words “Writing is the gift of empowerment”! Fantastic. Love it! 🙂

  • Liesbet

    Words written from the heart, Debby. I have always written as well, and found it easier to express myself in the written language than the verbal one. It flowed better, and some thought could be put into it, instead of just spewing words with little consideration. I have to be honest, though, having done, and still doing so much writing, hours a day (blogs, articles, translations, emails, a book, a diary), it sometimes gets really tiring and having a break from it all feels liberating. The only problem then is… what do I do with all those thoughts?? 🙂

    • dgkaye

      Thanks Liesbet. One thing is for sure, whenever I have a thought, I must write it down, if not it’s forever lost. I stop whatever else I’m doing write, I don’t save it for ‘next time’ I’ll write. Usually I’m writing something else and an idea or thought will come about something else I’m writing and I leave the current writing to go back to whatever is brewing about something else. I know, it sounds complicated, but that’s how I roll. Never let those thoughts disappear! At the very least, I’ll jot down the points regarding the thought to remind myself what it is I want to write about so I have a starting point when I get back to it. 🙂

  • Kate Johnston

    Since I started writing when I was a small child, I don’t know that I did so to express myself more easily or if it was simply because I just loved writing! In my adolescence, however, it became my sanctuary, and has always held that place in my heart. Beautiful post, Debby!

    • dgkaye

      Sometimes there is no actual reason when we get the calling Kate. For me, it was instinctual to go to the pen when I needed release. And it grew from there. 🙂 Thanks for your lovely comment Kate. 🙂 x

  • Christy B

    Sweet Debby! I’m so proud of you for honing in on the craft of writing to not only help heal yourself but also help others. You took that complex relationship with your mother and turned it into a life lesson – remarkable, that’s you!! A beautiful post.

  • elainemansfield

    Thank you. It works for me and I began writing for therapeutic reasons many years ago. That practice morphed to writing for public sharing, but I’ve written a few pieces in the last weeks that I can’t share with anyone, at least not for a long time. I think of the quote by E.M. Forester: “How do I know what I think until I see what I say?” I’d add how do I know what I feel until I see what I say?

    • dgkaye

      I love that Elaine. So true, we get a better understanding of ourselves by reading the words we took from our souls and put on paper. And yes, not everything is for everyone to read. But once we re-read a few times, and time passes, we may find another way to convey what we want to say when the time is right. 🙂

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