Writing the self is the art and practice of using creative, expressive and reflective writing to tell your story and to develop personal agency.
You can write to:
- become kinder and more truthful with yourself
- heal and integrate grief and learn from trauma
- develop a warm and meaningful way forward in your career
Writing for personal development can help us in a variety of contexts and has therapeutic benefits.
Top resources on therapeutic writing
There are a variety of applications for writing the self.
“Dr. Lengelle’s pedagogical style encourages students to critically examine their experiences for insight and empowers them to use these insights for the betterment of their future. I have truly benefitted from her approach to writing and I will always cherish my time as her student.”
Cara Violini, Writer & English Instructor
Writing for bereavement is an application of writing the self that allows people to process loss actively using creative, expressive, and reflective writing approaches. It combines the theory and practices underlying writing the self with the newest research on bereavement.
It is intended for both the bereaved, those who support the bereaved, and grief researchers. The work makes explicit room for the complexity of living and learning through bereavement and can apply to both death and non-death losses.
The approach underscores realities like: (1) sadness, anger, and joy are adaptive emotions in grief; (2) many who grief have unfinished business with the deceased; (3) sexual desire continues to exist after a spouse’s death and can be a source of guilt and longing; (4) the grief process can also be the source of positive life changes (e.g., gaining self-insight, independence, and compassion for others); (5) grief is not resolved, but integrated into one’s life and one’s life story.
“Reinekke’s gentle guidance and ability to challenge my viewpoints without offending demonstrated her skill to instruct purposefully and compassionately. Her confidence in my ability to independently grow and learn also empowered me to take charge of my own learning, mindset, and life story. Overall, Reinekke’s course was one of academic learning and life learning, blended together. If more classes blended academics and life in the same manner, I believe students would exit formal education as increasingly insightful and thoughtful humans. I am happy to recommend Reinekke as a skilled instructor and course creator.” – D.L. (A student who wrote about loss).
Career writing is a special branch of writing the self aimed at the development of a career identity.
In a world where employment is insecure and the variety of professional roles has become very complex, career choice-making is no longer a matter of matching skills and interests to so-called existing work. It’s about knowing about yourself.
Why is telling the story of your life and work important and why is this a new form of career learning that makes sense? So that we can develop a “warm inner compass”.
We can no longer rely on the employer for life-long security. In order to be and stay employed we must develop ourselves and cultivate our employability.
“Reinekke and Frans’s work fosters dynamic discourses that bolster the career resilience, career adaptability, and, ultimately, employability of people facing transitions by re-storying their identities in times of rapid and fundamental change.”
Professor Kobus Maree, Dept. of Educational Psychology, University of Pretoria, South Africa