Writing therapy; the benefits of writing for healing, creativity & calm

by Blog, Health & Wellbeing, Writers & writing

{ Book extract from Tonics For Your Creative Spirit

Writing – it’s such a basic skill, one of the first things we learn as children.

And it’s such a common act – we think nothing of making a list or scribbling a note. In our Information Age, it seems we’re all writers – emails, texts, reports, etc. These are daily To Dos for many of us.

But for all its commonplace simplicity, writing is actually a profound process.

We are turning invisible, intangible ideas and thoughts into a concrete form that exists in the world and not just in our heads.

It’s a highly creative act.

Writing can turn ideas into actions, it can make things happen, it can lead to the creation of something new.

But the effects of writing go beyond the written words.

The act of writing, the creative process of putting thoughts into words, can have a positive and often deeply soothing effect on the writer.

I first encountered this idea while reading one of my favourite novels, Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler.

During one of the most challenging periods of her life, the fictional Zelda recalls :

“To steady myself,
I wrote and I wrote and I wrote.”

~ from Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald
by Therese Anne Fowler

And Zelda is not alone in her belief that writing can help with the turbulence of life.

The indefatigable champion of the creative spirit, Julia Cameron, advocates the practice of daily journaling or freewriting with her legendary Morning Pages, which have become a beloved tool of writers and non-writers all over the world, helping thousands find happier levels of mental peace and inner calm.

This practice can be beneficial not only for writers, but for all artists or creatives – however active.

There’s something about getting thoughts pinned down onto paper (or screen) that has a calming effect on the nervous system.

Whether it’s the de-stressing effect of quieting the Monkey Mind, or the beneficial aspects of creative expression, it seems that the act of writing can soothe our souls.

It can be a technique for both self-expression and self-preservation.

Psychologists have studied the therapeutic effects of writing and learned that it can help to relieve the effects of trauma or help us handle difficult emotions.

Regular writing or journaling can help us to process our thoughts and emotions and find ways to cope with life’s challenges.

And this practice can be more than a remedy to life’s woes – it can serve as a more pro-active boost to our wellbeing and sense of self.

In her inspiring book Write Yourself Happy, Positive Psychology academic Megan C Hayes explores how Positive Journaling can help to cultivate life-enhancing skills and inner resources.

She writes, “In addition to alleviating our bad feelings, this way of writing could help us cultivate our great feelings, harnessing these emotions in order to power us along our individual journeys toward self-growth.”

These benefits are available to all of us, at all levels of writing skill or ability.

And as a form of therapy, can you think of a more affordable one?!

So even if you wouldn’t call yourself a writer, there are many valuable benefits to adopting some form of writing or journaling. And to inspire you to have a go, here are 12 ways that putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) can be therapeutic for you.

12 therapeutic effects of writing

1. EXPRESSION

If thoughts, ideas or feelings are bubbling up within you, it can be beneficial to express them, rather than suppressing or repressing them.

Writing is a simple way to give voice to your inner world and the creative energies inside you.

 

2. CLARITY

It’s often easier to make sense of our thoughts when we try to get them into some kind of order.

Putting thoughts into words helps us to crystallise them, so we can see more clearly what we’re dealing with.

 

3. RELIEF

My fellow list-lovers will be familiar with this one.

Simply making a list, mind map or ‘brain-dump’ of all the ideas that play on loop in our minds can be very soothing.

It seems once we’ve written it down, our brains don’t feel the need to remind us about it over and over and over.

This helps us to feel relief and enjoy increased mental calm.

 

4. ENERGY

Writing is a creative act and creativity can be highly energising.

If you’re feeling emotionally low or physically lethargic, writing can be a way to kick-start a new energy or restore flagging spirits.

 

how to write a book on ipad keyboard notebook inspiration draft

5. INSPIRATION

Freewriting or ‘stream of consciousness’ writing can lead to some interesting and surprising new ideas.

If you just begin to write and keep going – without censoring your words – you’ll find yourself writing things you didn’t even know you thought! 

These gems of inspiration can improve your life in wonderful ways – and it’s exciting to discover a new access to the realm of ideas.

 

6. PROBLEM-SOLVING

Exploring a tricky subject or problem on the page can often help you write your way to a solution that you couldn’t imagine before you began to write.

 

7. MANIFESTING

Writing turns your thoughts into form.

Writing your ideas down can be one of the first steps of turning them into reality.

And when you recognise how your words can begin to shape your life and your world, these empowering feelings help to build self-esteem and confidence.

 

8. HAPPINESS

If you direct your writing towards positive emotions, you can generate therapeutic feelings of happiness, gratitude or fulfilment.

Or if you write about past events that brought you joy – you get to experience those pleasures all over again in the present moment.

These generated emotions have a realtime effect on your biochemistry which can be therapeutic and beneficial on many levels.

 

i love writing books laptop mug candle snow day

9. RECOVERY

Writing – in particular, expressive journaling – has been shown to help with psychological issues.

The simple act of writing can offer a route to recovery and improved mental health.

 

10. HARMONY

If you use a regular writing practice to vent any frustration or air any grievances, you’ll feel less need to express those emotions toward the relevant person, reducing the conflict or drama in your life.

It can also help you to reflect more calmly on the issue and maybe even find a new perspective that brings you peace.

 

11. JOY

If you love words, then simply writing anything, or just playing with words, can be a source of joy and pleasure.

If you have any literary inclinations, however slight, time spent writing can be very soothing to your creative heart.

 

12. COMMUNICATION

The more you write, the better you get at writing.

It’s a form of practice, and when you practice often, you naturally improve. 

Writing regularly will help you become more articulate and aware of good communication skills, which will not only help you in all areas of your life and work, it can also provide a satisfying boost to your self-image.

 

• • • 

 

These are just a few of the ways writing can be a simple but powerful tool for finding more calm and comfort in your life. And the more often you can find a little time to explore your thoughts on paper, the more you’ll reap the benefits, which will support you long after you’ve packed away your notebook or device.

So, if you’d like to be more creative, confident, kind, and happy, – where can you introduce a little writing therapy into your life?

Why not grab a notebook now and begin writing down your thoughts?

And in the future, if life ever gets a little rocky, why not take a tip from Zelda and write your way to calmer waters?

(You may even find, as Zelda did, that this kind of therapy can result in a finished novel.)

danielle raine creativity coach

Hi! I'm Danielle.

Danielle Raine Creativity Coachcreative coach danielle raine l

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