Students engage in writing to process and express themselves

Photo Illustration by Kia Harlan | Banner | Lydia Scott sophomore mathematics major, reflects on one of her journals that she started while attending school in Europe.

Many activities are conducive to an individual’s mental health. Whether someone is an expert or a novice, California Baptist University students have expressed that engaging in an activity they love improves their well-being.

One pastime that is popular among many age groups is writing and journaling. This process assist individuals in getting their thoughts down on paper in a variety of ways.

Moriah Causly, senior creative writing major, explained the kind of writing she does and why she enjoys the activity herself.

“I do a wide variety of writing,” Causly said. “From, spoken word, to poetry, to short stories, I tend to stick to the more creative side of writing. I love this kind of writing because it’s quicker and I don’t have time to spend hours just cranking out long stories and heavy essays. I tend to find myself finding small amounts of time and writing down my thoughts through journaling, spoken word and poetry.”

People love writing their thoughts down on paper or a screen because it is therapeutic and engaging. Writing can hold a variety of different meanings across the CBU community. For some, journaling and writing is an escape from the physical world. Others view the act as nothing more than writing down a grocery list. Whatever it may be, all perspectives are valid and accepted.

Trevor Vals, senior film major, explained why he believes the practice of writing improves the welfare of many individual’s mental health.

“I would say that any type of writing is a form of expression,” Vals said. “For me, it allows me to escape and create new worlds much better than the one we’re dealing with today. My sisters also journal a lot and they aren’t creative-type people, but it allows them a space to be personal and escape through that.”

From a psychological perspective, writing and journaling are a common tool that is used in clinical settings to assist people in processing emotions, feelings and more.

Dr. Veola Vazquez, professor of psychology, was able to shed light on the practice of writing from an objective standpoint.

“As a licensed psychologist, we will often use journaling as a way to help people process emotional experiences and clarify their thinking,” Vazquez said. “[This practice] tends to be helpful. It helps people bring these thoughts back into therapy and talk about what they’re learning. It is often used as a part of psychotherapy.”

Dr. Berniece Alspach, professor of English, elaborated on what it is like to teach writing to aspiring college students.

“I find so much satisfaction when students find their own voices,” Alspach said. “When students find the confidence and the words to express their own ideas and values, I find the most joy in my teaching.”

Writing is a common practice that all people can take part in. While there are certain frameworks to certain styles of writing, there is no one objective way to write. Any person, no matter what age or experience, can partake in the age-old activity that has been revered by many for centuries.

“[Writing] is not as scary as it looks,” Causly said. “A lot of times, people approach writing and think ‘I don’t think I’m good enough’ or ‘I don’t have the vocabulary for this.’ However, writing is so simplistic. It’s so raw and real. You don’t have to start out writing a perfect eloquent piece. It can be as simple as journaling the phrase ‘I’m sad.’”

Vals also emphasized the importance of reading for anyone who writes.

“Learning the techniques other authors use and seeing what you enjoy reading will translate into wanting to tell your own stories,” Vals said. “And then practicing writing every day. You can only tell a story if it’s written [down on paper].”

Writing is a tool, skill and enjoyable activity for many. The art of crafting an eloquent story or simply journaling about one’s emotions or their day is always open to anyone of any skill level.

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