Even if you just scribble down how you’re feeling and throw it away, writing is good for your emotional and mental health.
The other day I wrote something down and threw it away. It wasn’t in a fit of pique; I knew before I had started that its destiny involved wicker. A particularly thorny problem from my past had been starting to dominate my thoughts. It was so loud that it rattled my brain. I couldn’t concentrate on work, or even relax without that voice creeping in again. I had a chat with Lorna here at The Write Factor and she reminded me about the ‘writing as therapy’ article I’d written to promote the Absolute Beginners course we run. ‘Write down your problem in the form of a question,’ she said. ‘Don’t try to answer the question – your subconscious will supply that.’ So I did as she requested, tucked it right at the bottom of the bin and waited. Sure enough, within a few days, the harsh voice had quietened, and been replaced with a fresh, new perspective. The problem hadn’t been solved, just reframed in a way that was softer, more tolerable to live with. James Pennebaker, psychologist and author of The Secret Life of Pronouns says: ‘The mere act of translating emotional upheavals into words is consistently associated with improvements in physical and mental health.’ I’d already seen how participants on the Absolute Beginners course had found the writing process so emotionally rewarding and now I experienced it first-hand. Now I just need to empty my lovely wicker bin.
Emily Cunningham is a writer and editor and runs The Write Factor’s online writing course programme. For more information click here