Expressive Writing – 5 Ways to Write With Emotion and Hook Readers

how to write expressively For writers, expressive writing helps hook readers and keep them reading! These ways to write with emotion will help you get in touch with who you really are and what you really think.

And that, fellow scribes, will make you a successful writer.

Before the tips, a quip:

“Growth demands a temporary surrender of security.” ~ Gail Sheehy.

Writing about your feelings when you’re not used to it is about letting go of barriers and opening up to your emotions. Sometimes it’s vulnerability, fear, or the exposure of yourself as a person rather than a writer that can hold you back from writing expressively. It can be daunting to peel back the layers of your life in order to get to your feelings, but you can do it. Your writing will improve, and your readers will be hooked!

To learn more about expressive writing – especially how it helps writers heal and deal with difficult issues – read The Writing Cure: How Expressive Writing Promotes Health and Emotional Well-Being by Stephen Lepore and Joshua Smyth.

Here are some tips to help you write expressively…

5 Ways to Write With Emotion (Expressive Writing)

Articles and novels can evoke feelings from readers — feelings that may inspire them to share the article, buy the book, and share their discovery of this amazing writer with friends. One of the biggest challenges for writers is expressive writing – sharing feelings. Even harder is to be in touch with one’s own feelings, which must come before writing with emotion.

These tips will help you identify your feelings, use them in your writing, and hook readers.

Tune in and turn it up

Play a favorite song and write about the feelings that come up for you. Why do you like it so much? What does it remind you of? What feelings do you get from the song itself? I recently heard one of my favorite songs at a freestyle concert that reminded me of weekend trips to my sister’s house when I was little. Some of the best times for me were spent in her car listening to that song. One of the best ways to write with emotion is to remember those old memories and explore the feelings that come up.

Romeo, where art thou? (Shakespeare was an expressive writer)

Is it possible to write about a loved one and not write with emotion? Perhaps. But if you dig into your love and ask yourself questions (Why do you love that person? How do you feel when you’re around them?), you may find yourself writing expressively without even trying. And remember: expressive writing (and all good writing) isn’t about telling how you feel — it’s about showing how you feel.

Get thee to a nunnery! Write with emotion about someone you dislike

Why do you dislike that person? What feelings come up when you think about that person? Disgust? Annoyance? I had a co-worker once that was very rude to me when asking for things. I felt that she was not respectful of my abilities and time. I did not like her very much as a person. She was also a complainer. Complained about everything under the sun and then some. Very annoying. So much so that I started bringing my Ipod to work in order to tune her voice out. She was so loud, I could still hear her. I was the happiest person in the world when it was announced that she was moving to another department. As you can see, writing about someone you dislike is fodder for expressive writing — and it can hook readers.

Look at a favorite picture – why does it hook you?

Write about the feelings that come up when you look at the picture. On my desk are pictures of my mother with my son, Andy as a baby and a picture of myself with my sister on vacation in Puerto Rico. These two pictures keep me inspired and connected to my feelings as a mother, daughter and sister. A great way to write with emotion is to stay tuned in to those feelings and emotions that pictures incite.

Read and write about a passage in your favorite book

Reading also connects us to our feelings. If you have a favorite writer, think about the emotions evoked by that passage. What exact word or phrase brought out your feelings? How and why are you hooked as a reader?

Remember that once you get the ball rolling on writing about your feelings, you can keep it going by revisiting these tips. And, feel free to share any tips you have used to help you get in touch with your emotions.

Another interesting way to write with emotion is to tap into your dreams! To learn how famous authors use their dreams in writing, read Writers Dreams – How Dreaming Affects the Writing Process.

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What do you think about expressive writing – do you think it hooks readers? Comments welcome below…

About the author: Heiddi Zalamar is a mom/therapist/writer living and working in NYC. You can see her writing at and can email her at

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