Write Your Way Out

These instructions are not for everyone, but if they are for you, you’ll know.

Here’s what to do. Start with a fresh journal, or an old journal you used once two years ago, or a stack of loose leaf pages, or a word document, or a napkin.

Get a pen and write. Write about the first thought you had this morning. Write about the loop of to do’s that you can never escape from, and what you would do if you could escape. Write about what makes you happy or confused or afraid. Write about what reality used to be like when you were a kid or a teenager or a 20-year-old, and what reality is like now, and how you got from one point to the other. Write about what is true and what you wish were true. Write about your favorite character in a book or a movie, about what you find interesting or admirable about them. Write about how you feel when you make a cup of tea, how you feel when you look up at the stars, how you feel when you fold laundry, how you feel when you lay down to go to sleep at night. Write about the places in between: bus stations and airports and the lobby of your doctor’s office. Write about the space that you live, and the objects you keep there, and why you have them, and whether they mean anything to you or not. Write about your friends, about how you feel when you’re with them, about how funny or selfish or insightful or irritating they are. Write about the people you pass on the street, and what their lives might be like, where they might work or live or who they go home to. Write about someone you met briefly, years ago, and never spoke to again but still think about sometimes.

Write about everything. Be courageous, be cheesy, be depressing, spiteful, and full of hope, all in turns. Be silly and profound. Never show these words to anyone unless you really want to. Value them for yourself, value your voice and your experience. They belong to you, they are yours, your very self.

If you feel trapped, scrawl your existence on the walls of your cell. Write your way out.

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