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Writing as an Emotional Outlet


Communications office student writer L. Mixson ’24 recently took part in Spilled Ink, a student-led therapeutic writing session. In the following, she talks about the value of the experience.

With the stressful state of politics and COVID-19 fear and insecurity, the need for emotional catharsis has risen. The Counseling Center, already heavily involved in organizing events meant to alleviate student tension, acted on the idea of Maja Domagala ’24 and hosted an event of particular interest to me: Spilled Ink, a student-led therapeutic writing session.

I’ve used writing as both a creative and an emotional outlet for as long as I can remember, and having Hamilton cater to this coping mechanism immediately piqued my interest. The meeting began with introductions. There were seven or eight of us in total, with some attendees wishing to remain anonymous, and the group as a whole felt approachable and eager to participate.

Domagala then asked us why we’d chosen to attend, and she received a variety of reasons. Some were searching for a space to write outside an academic environment, while focusing on themselves instead of different subject matter. Others were there to use writing for the intended purpose of the meeting, as a way to regulate their mental health.

One participant described it as a method to remind oneself that the thoughts they were getting out were just that: thoughts. Not reality, not real and harmful, but thoughts that were under their control and could be written out onto the page and dealt with healthily. Writing as a form of mindfulness is common with mental health professionals, but it was beyond refreshing to see one of my peers also recognize it as such an effective tool.

The meeting progressed to a one-on-one mental health check-in, then transitioned into the writing portion of the event. We began with “stream of consciousness” writing, or writing out our unfiltered thoughts as they appear in our head, with no editing or hesitation. Next, we were told to write a list of positivity. This could involve reasons to wake up, things to look forward to, and people that make us happy just by being around. The final writing exercise concerned writing a letter to someone who’d impacted us, negatively or positively, or our future or past self.

The session officially ended there, but for those of us who remained, there was the option of sharing the lists and letters we’d written before the real final step of meditation, letting us free ourselves of our thoughts and anxieties for a few minutes.

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