The healing power of creative writing

Writing can be therapeutic even when it appears to have nothing at all to do with the events of our lives. Here’s how.  

In my last post I was talking about the healing power of dreams to ground us physically and emotionally when we get over-stressed and too much ‘in our head.’ Since then, I’ve been to a Lapidus workshop in Bristol which has made me want to share my thoughts on the healing power of creative writing.

Lapidus - 'words for well-being'

Lapidus – ‘words for well-being’

Lapidus is an organisation for writing therapists; it includes mental health practitioners who use creative writing within their clinical practice and authors who teach writing in non-clinical settings as a route to greater understanding of the self and the world.

Some of the wonderful books on offer at the Lapidus conference

Some of the wonderful books on offer at the Lapidus conference

Most of the Lapidus workshops I’ve attended have involved writing about our real-life personal experiences, and they have felt rather like counselling sessions, where the theoretical base seems to be about moving towards catharsis or reframing difficult life events or relationships.

One of the great tools of writing therapy is ‘journaling.’ This is a regular practice of personal writing reflecting on personal insights, day-to-day experiences, dreams and inspirations; it’s pretty much what my dream-diaries have evolved into over the years and I can highly recommend it.

But creative writing doesn’t have to be autobiographical in order to be therapeutic. Every poem or piece of fiction we write connects us to our authentic emotions, like the sad dream I was talking about in my last post; it takes us beyond the narrow limits of what we are capable of understanding about ourselves and releases us into the wide, fast flow of emotional and imaginal experiences that make us who we are.

Do you keep a writing journal? Or have you experienced the healing power of writing in other ways? I love to hear about your thoughts and experiences

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2 thoughts on “The healing power of creative writing

  1. saratbaker

    Hi Jenny,
    I agree with you that sometimes, and rather often, imaginative writing is as good or better than strictly autobiographical writing when it comes to writing to heal. Sometimes the roadblocks to actual memory are so great because the memory is traumatic. However, in fiction or poetry, the writer can create distance from the actual while still addressing the emotional truth of a memory or event. In my work with cancer patients and their families, I have often witnessed this.

    Reply
    1. Jenny Alexander Post author

      I like the way you express it, ‘addressing the emotional truth.’ Your work sounds really fulfilling.

      Reply

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