5 Simple Therapeutic Writing Exercises

5 Simple Therapeutic Writing Exercises

Last update: 07 June, 2018

We’ve all gone through times of great anxiety and anguish at some point in our lives. No human being is exempt from problems, and there are times in life when we have to bear heavy burdens. Good news: therapeutic writing exercises are a fantastic way to deal with harmful feelings.

For centuries, pen and paper have proven to be more than mere objects. They do a lot more than just write; they are vehicles for our emotions. Isn’t reading the best (and healthiest) escape? It transports us to new worlds and help us find ourselves. Doesn’t writing do the same thing?

In the 1960’s, American psychologist Ira Progoff came up with the intensive journal method. It basically consists of keeping a diary. Since then, numerous studies support the effectiveness of this increasingly popular practice. Therapeutic writing exercises fulfill a very important function. Plus, they’re easy, can be done anywhere, and anyone can do them. Let’s check them out.

5 therapeutic writing exercises

To begin, all you need is a pen and a sheet of paper. Get in an environment where you feel relaxed and comfortable, away from noise if possible. If you wish, play some soft music in the background. Scented candles are also helpful. The idea is to be relaxed and alone.

Therapeutic writing exercises with coffee.

The diary of positive things

Many people have been keeping a diary since childhood. They write anecdotes and interesting things that happen to them, not necessarily happy things. Here, however, your diary should only point out the positive things in your day.

And no, it’s not impossible. Take it as a challenge: when you get up every morning, look at all the good things around you. Go throughout your day noticing them. Then, at night before bed, read through your positive observations. You’ll be amazed to see that life is not as gray as you think.

Put your ideas in order

Take the pen and write down everything that crosses your mind over a period of 30 minutes. It doesn’t matter if it’s disconnected or doesn’t make sense. You can also draw or make lists: whatever you like.

Although it seems crazy, it will put your ideas in order and show you what your most intimate feelings are. It’s a good way to get to know yourself a little more and delve into your own psyche.

“Writing a poem is to repair the fundamental wound, the tear. . .because we are all hurt.”

Alejandra Pizarnik-


If something is making you feel bad, write it down. Write a letter to whatever is making you unhappy, and unburden yourself. Express all your thoughts: your pain, your fears, your anger. You’ll feel a huge sense of relief afterwards.

Then, you can choose between burning the letter or giving it to the person to whom it is addressed. Only you know if the latter would be a good idea or not. It may feel good, but it may have bad consequences. Think objectively about the consequences before acting.

Journaling in the grass.

Design your dreams

Write on a sheet of paper what your goals are. You probably have a lot, some impossible to visualize in your head. Think of them and ask yourself, is it really impossible to reach them? Are you afraid of failing? Is there a more realistic alternative?

Whatever you decide, only you can know how far you’re willing to go. No one is going to judge you if you fail and, if you fail, you must also not judge yourself. Design the life you want, visualize it and motivate yourself. Motivate yourself to keep fighting for what you want, because it’s much better to try and fail than to wonder.

Write a letter for bad days

There will be days when everything seems terrible. Dumb little things will make you angry. You’ll argue with everyone and feel as though you got up on the wrong side of the bed. For these bad days, keep a letter on your desk or somewhere safe: a letter for bad days.

To do this, choose a day when you’re feeling happy and write a letter to yourself. Tell your other self how proud you are of him or her, and all the good things you have. You may really need that boost of positive energy on a bad day, so keep it safe.

Therapeutic writing exercises can be extraordinarily helpful, especially when you’re having a bad day or need some extra confidence. They teach you to put your thoughts in order and process your feelings. They are, in short, emotional support that is sometimes hard to get from others.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.