It’s not what you produce as you write that’s important; it’s who you become as you write that’s important.
— Louise deSalvo, American writer
Founded in 2020, The Journal of Expressive Writing is the first online literary journal to publish expressive writing, free writing, non-fiction, personal essay, memoir, reflective essay, poetry, prose, contemplative discourse, and creative non-fiction—all that originate from a writing prompt—by both established and emerging writers.
Why a Journal for Expressive Writing?
Expressing our emotions through writing can help us make sense of our lives. It can ground us. It can help us manage our emotions and it can help us make room for grief, empathy, gratitude, joy, forgiveness, and hope. Shifting and opening ourselves up to new perspectives and narratives, expressive writing can help support our healing process and illuminate unawaken parts of us. It can shift our mindset and help us feel more connected to others. Sharing our writing with others can help bridge political, class, and racial divides. To share our stories may be one of the most valuable gifts we give to ourselves, and to others, now and in the future. Committed to social justice? Sharing your voice is one of the most effective forms of social justice there is!
What is Expressive Writing?
Expressive writing—also called emotional writing—is the process of writing about personal and emotional events without regard to form, structure, spelling, grammar, or punctuation. Essentially, it is free-writing, often inspired by a prompt, poem, or piece of literature. As Natalie Goldberg describes in her book Writing Down the Bones, it is the act of keeping the pen moving without judgment or editing, writing until we get to the subconscious parts of ourselves.
The magnificence of expressive writing is that it’s accessible to anyone, anywhere, at any time, and its many personal and collective benefits are profound. For the past 30 years, psychologist James W. Pennebaker has been at the forefront of expressive writing research. He and others have conducted hundreds of studies illustrating the positive health effects of expressive writing on physical and mental well-being—from enhanced immune system, better sleep habits, increased work efficiency, and fewer trips to the doctor to better memory, more meaningful connections, and improved symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis (to name just a few!). In fact, reviews of the research suggest that expressive writing is a “major medical advance,” improving the state of mind of people with cancer, Parkinson’s disease, childhood sexual abuse, postpartum depression, PTSD among war veterans, and more.
Often writing for 15-20 minutes per day for four consecutive days, the beauty of expressive writing is that there is no right or wrong way to do it! It is your writing, whether you choose to share it with the world or not. But we hope you do. Your voice matters.