I’ve often remarked that a writer writes because he or she must. Given that the craft involves frustration and even anguish, what am I saying about writers? That we’re masochists? No. I’m saying that when words are marshaled across a page in proper order and with a degree of elegance, the effect is like having an out of body experience… right up there with eating calorie free Ben & Jerry’s chocolate brownie ice cream.
Despite the struggle to find the right words, it turns out that writing is a form of therapy. Trauma patients are encouraged to put their frightening experiences to paper, for example. Describing the event in the third person allows victims to examine their terrifying histories without feeling threatened. The process is called, “Third-person expressive writing.” Those who use it make speedier recoveries than those who don’t. (“Therapy in Third Person” by Tori Rodriguez, Scientific American Mind, Nov/Dec. 2013 pg. 17)
The same technique works for anxieties. In a New Zealand study, patients facing surgery were asked to write down their fears prior to the operation. Again, those who did recovered faster than those who didn’t. (Ibid pg. 17)
Oddly enough, the metaphor we chose to confront our fear gives us a clue as to how we’ll face it. Envisioning our anxiety as a villain or a beast, suggests we’ll take a hands-on approach to our recovery. Seeing the problem as amorphous, like a virus, might mean we’re likely to turn to others for a systematic solution. (Ibid pg. 17)
That the pen is mightier than the sword is old news. That it may be powerful medicine is something fresh to consider. The next time you feel a cold coming on, try reaching for pen and paper as well as the vitamin C.
(Courtesy of www.magforwomen.com)