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How to Write Expressively and Adapt It to Your Novels

Updated on July 13, 2017
Kristen Howe profile image

Kristen Howe has been writing expressively for years. As a former published poet, she had adapted it into her own novels.

Writing to Heal can Help You Find Peace With Yourself and Improve Your Own Writing

What is expressive writing?

Expressive writing is a method of dealing with trauma, like therapeutic journaling. It’s the cornerstone of wellness and writing connections. It comes from our core. It’s personal and emotional writing without regard to form or other writing conventions like spelling, verb agreement, and punctuation. It expresses what’s on your mind and in your heart since it pays no attention to propriety. Find your digging or mining in creative writing.

Expressive writing is expressing what you notice by tapping into an emotional truth for fiction and might have an arc of a story.

Take a Journey in Your own Journal on how you Feel and how you Heal

Write From Your Heart

One of my classes, I attended in last fall’s full day local conference, was on Expressive Writing. I first thought it was for fiction novels when it was mostly focused on nonfiction novels. I’ve learned it could be used for both forms of writing in both ways.

To write expressively, you don’t need an advanced degree to get published. The speaker redirected the focus on his published book on how he used expressive writing for his latest works.

Transform Feelings Onto Paper

You should write expressively on what you care about. Take it from your own life. Shelf those items by envisioning things or people, for fiction and poetry. Use everything and put them into a pot to create places, people and scenarios. It pays more attention to feelings than events, memories, objects or people in narrative contents.

It can help you tell your story if it’s good, dark or light. Keep a notepad by your bed. Change the names to express rage and anger… (for example, dark.)

You can make something at stake by investing the reader into action. Maybe you can hire a professional editor if the quality’s there. You can write for pleasure for how long. Take a walk for a bit. For edits, you should have placeholders to keep track of your physical and computer notes.

Be Your Own Researcher

In order to understand how to use expressive writing, be your own researcher for four days and explore your own feelings. Use these exercises and prompts to guide you. Later on, you'll find out what it can do for you and your writing.

Before you start, read this careful.

1. Set aside 20 minutes for four days.
2. Choose your own important and personal topics to write.
3. Have pen and paper with you. Don't worry about making mistakes in grammar and punctuation during your journaling. Draw a line or repeat the previous sentence, if you run out of things to write.
4. This is for you only and not a letter. Write for yourself. You may wish to conceal it or destroy it later.
5. If you get in too deep in the writing, observe the flip-out rule, or it might push you over the edge. Stop writing, if you can't write about certain traumatic events or if you go in-depth into your writing and can't write about a sore spot.

6. Within two hours of your session, this feeling of sadness or depression will subside on the first or second day.

Writing prompt: Let it go. Explore the traumatic experiences in your life and tie it with other hidden trauma. Link it to the future to find out who you'll wish to be or like to be. Write about major conflicts or stressors, if you don't have a single trauma. Keep this for yourself and don't share with others. No need to worry about how you wrote it.

Time's Up: Your Results

Reflect on what you’ve written and notice in your life. How you feel and believed it to me. Perhaps you'll share it. Be compassionate and give yourself time. Store it, tear it or shred it, if you're worried about privacy. You may want to keep it and come back to it later, if you’re concerned that someone may read what you wrote.

Post-script: Local Conference Update

Two years ago, I’ve attended my first local half-day conference. I’ve found out, that since the person in charge who retired last year, no one had taken her place. But I did find out, that instead of twice a year, it’ll would be held every fall for the full day conference in a new location. In the meantime, I’ll continue to share what I’ve learned with my post-conference hubs this spring and summer.


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    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 11 months ago from Northeast Ohio

      HI Emese. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. You're welcome. Good for you! Well maybe you can start again and keep those notes. :-)

    • Emese Fromm profile image

      EmeseRéka 11 months ago from The Desert

      Hi, Kristen,

      This is good, thank you for sharing. I've been doing this type of writing without thinking about it for as long as I remember. Writing is therapy, the best - and cheapest ;) - kind. I have destroyed most of those type of writings, but I wish I didn't. So, to add to your advice: years later, you might use some of these exercises in a novel or short story; try to keep them if you can help it, even if hidden somewhere.

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 12 months ago from Northeast Ohio

      Vesa, you're very welcome. I hope it helps. Thanks for commenting and stopping by.

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 12 months ago from Peru, South America

      Thank you for sharing this writing exercise. It´s important to write without being self-conscious and that will help us express our emotions when writing.

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 14 months ago from Northeast Ohio

      Thanks Flourish for stopping by and commenting. Go for it!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 14 months ago from USA

      I haven't done this in a long time. Good information and encouragement.

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 16 months ago from Northeast Ohio

      My pleasure Mary. Always good to see you.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 16 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      A great thing to do at our age. Thanks for the prompts.

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 17 months ago from Northeast Ohio

      Thanks Emge for stopping by.

    • emge profile image

      Madan 17 months ago from Abu Dhabi

      Thanks for this nice post. Splendid reading

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 17 months ago from Northeast Ohio

      My pleasure, Alicia. Give it a go. It might be helpful.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 17 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks for sharing the interesting and useful information, Kristen. I'll try the technique that you've described.

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 17 months ago from Northeast Ohio

      Thanks Jo for stopping by and commenting. Give it a go!

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 17 months ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      I like to know where I'm going when I sit down to write, but I will try to write expressively to see where it takes me. Useful and interesting info.

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 17 months ago from Northeast Ohio

      Dora, my pleasure. I'm happy to share what I've learned last fall. It's good therapy too.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 17 months ago from The Caribbean

      Thank you for sharing this very helpful information. Sometimes when I write "expressively," I find myself in an uncomfortable place. Now I know that the experience can be useful.

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 17 months ago from Northeast Ohio

      My pleasure, Gypsy. Enjoy!

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 17 months ago from Riga, Latvia

      Thanks. This offers so much useful information.

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 17 months ago from Northeast Ohio

      Thanks Lorraine!

    • louise-barraco profile image

      Louise Barraco 17 months ago from Ontario

      Great hub awesome information