In the labyrinth of our minds, where thoughts interweave and emotions collide, finding a method to navigate the complexities can be transformative. Foster a deeper connection with yourself through “flow writing,” a creative journaling practice guided by Ciara Venezia.
The pressure of life is something that all of us have to deal with every day. Going to our jobs, maintaining social relationships, pursuing our passions, all while managing our own thoughts and emotions—it’s easy to get lost and forget how to relax, breathe, and let things be. Ciara Venezia, a wellness facilitator at the Wellbeing Boost Program, has discovered a way to break out of it through a journaling method called “flow-writing.”
For Venezia, flow-writing began in 2020 when she started going to therapy. Through her therapy sessions, Venezia was diagnosed with severe anxiety and learned about the psychological term “faulty narrative” or apophenia, where one perceives a connection or a pattern between unrelated or random things. “Flow-writing is a space where we practice the release of inner blockages through creative writing or journaling; allowing thoughts to flow as words on paper, creating meaning out of experiences,” Venezia shares with Vogue Philippines.
Learning to “flow”
Struggling with “faulty narrative,” Venezia’s mental health was impacted by her thought process. “As humans, we tend to create meaning out of our experiences. But with faulty thinking, we tend to create this cause-and-effect explanation or connection of a series of random things just to make sense out of it,” she explains. “Sometimes, it does make sense to connect these things and it’s also important to do that, but when you have faulty thinking, there’s this big possibility to overlook facts or to blow up something random or small, and then we don’t notice that.”
To unlearn this, Venezia’s therapist encouraged her to write her thoughts out, as if she’s transcribing a dialogue with herself. “At first, I had a notebook before and I would just write something, anything that came up with me. I would just write out whatever I was thinking and at first, it was tedious to do that. But then, I noticed myself feeling lighter and lighter as I practiced,” she shares.
Through writing, she noticed her thought patterns and emotional processes. “I would see myself connect dots or like, assume things just because I was feeling all these emotions. But writing it all out, it helped me feel less pressured and freed myself from overthinking too much,” she says.
From here, Venezia was inspired to develop the practice further. She fondly shares spending time with her friend Philline Daguro, an embodiment teacher who “flows” through movement and dance. During their sessions, Venezia and Daguro would take turns giving prompts to each other and create movements together.
This sparked an idea in Venezia. “I tried giving myself the prompts instead of giving it to another person,” she says. “And these prompts aren’t even questions, they would be random phrases I would think in the middle of the day. Phrases like, ‘We meet in circles’ or ‘space is grace’ or ‘the city has spirits, too.’ So it sounds like the title of poems or stories, but then I would explore what I think.”
Flowing with others and oneself
Beginning as a personal practice to becoming a new form of journaling, Venezia’s flow-writing method has made its way to others through her flow-writing workshops conducted at the We Are Shapeshifters movement studio in Escolta. “Realizing and connecting with my own voice and also finding my own space through flow-writing made me realize my emotions and my thoughts are valid, and that kind of fuel was enough for me to keep practicing this and eventually sharing it with others,” she says.
In her workshops, Venezia encourages both writers and non-writers alike to participate. “I always tell the participants when I begin this space that you don’t have to be a writer to practice flow-writing or to be in this space because the point of flow writing is to ‘flow.’ The point is to express,” she says.
Like the practice itself, her workshops don’t have a strict format either. “Every workshop is going to be different in some sense because I try to connect the theme of the workshop with the activities I have,” she says. “So last time, when we had ‘Ripple,’ it was actually the first time that I had everyone write on one piece of paper.”
No what matter the format or theme is, Venezia has a few suggestions on how you can begin to explore flow writing.
1. Begin with a grounding exercise
Venezia recommends beginning the practice with a grounding exercise, such as meditation or walking. “After that, what I do is I reflect and write about the visions that I saw in my meditation. When I walk, I try to remember what kinds of plants there are or if I’ve encountered any wild animals. I write it all down,” she shares.
The grounding exercise helps you be present with yourself, Venezia claims. Another method she uses is writing letters to herself or others. “What I do is I write a letter to these people and I flow and write everything and anything that I want to say to these people. Also, this is a practice I do before a difficult conversation with someone. It’s a letter for me to understand myself and where I am in that particular space,” she shares.
2. Explore different prompts
In line with this, Venezia’s suggestion for your first flow-writing prompt is to write a love letter. “Write a love letter about all the things that you appreciate about yourself. Or if you don’t want to talk about yourself, maybe one thing about your life or one person about your life,” she suggests.
She recommends another prompt: “Ask yourself what’s difficult about doing the ‘next step’ that you need to do. Up to your own interpretation. One thing is always the first thing in anything in life. But doing it or practicing it is going to be the hardest. So reflect on that. Ask yourself what’s difficult about doing.”
3. Finding how you “flow” through words
Whichever prompt you choose, Venezia emphasizes that above everything, it’s all about how you “flow.” “In flow-writing, the format will depend on you as a participant, so if you feel more comfortable writing poetry, letter-making, diary writing, or journaling, then it’s valid and that’s how you communicate. That’s how you flow and that’s all that matters,” she says.
Almost four years later, Venezia reflects on her flow-writing journey. “It’s a space wherein I tried to help myself and when I opened up the practice to others, it became a space we’re in,” she says. “I just want people to flow out their thoughts literally from hand to paper and create their own meaning out of that experience.”
If not flow-writing, Venezia recommends finding an activity that helps you “flow” with life. She shares, “I’ve always believed knowing yourself deeper means that you also learn your language and that’s what I want for other people to find. To find the language where we can practice to flow better with life.”