Healing with Words: the Writing Prescription
I believe in the power of the written word. Whether that word is created by ourselves, in our personal writing, or received from others as we read, words can heal. This has been known for thousands of years; the inscription over the library doors in Ancient Thebes read “The Healing Place of the Soul”.
Journaling can help us heal; it can maintain health and help us through times of illness. The act of writing, of honouring your true feelings and reactions, hopes and fears, can heal the soul and the body. Many studies have been carried out in recent years showing the benefit of journaling for those with chronic pain or stress related disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome or rheumatoid arthritis. Journaling can reduce stress levels and increase our immune functioning. Writing out our experiences and concerns during a time of illness or crisis can assist in making the chaos of daily life into a form of narrative, to be understood and synthesized more completely, with mental and physical benefit.
Reading can also soothe, comfort, or provide helpful examples. Whether reading fiction to escape or to reflect on a character’s similar situation, or reading non-fiction by others who have gone through something like we are enduring, reading — and then reflecting on what we read — is a useful element to add to our self-care toolbox.
In Healing with Words, Diana Raab thoughtfully shares her experiences of going through breast cancer and then myeloma, and how writing helped her find a way to cope and make things better for herself. Writing had always been an important part of her life, and her book both reveals the value that journaling held in Diana’s personal journey and encourages readers to try journaling for themselves. She provides writing prompts, with space to respond, within the pages of the book. Reading her life story and discovering the role journaling played in her self-care strategy may inspire you, or someone you know, through a similar crisis.
She provides ten tips for writing toward healing:
10 Tips on Writing for Healing
1. Find a quiet uninterrupted time and place to write
2. Choose an inspiring notebook and pen
3. Create a centering ritual (light a candle, meditate, play music, stretch)
4. Breathe deeply
5. Put aside your inner critic
6. Date your entry
7. Begin by writing your feelings and sensations
8. Write nonstop for 15–20 minutes
9. Save what you have written
10. Write regularly
~~ Diana Raab
Don’t put off exploring the power of writing… use these ten points to start giving yourself some TLC, right now. Today.
Today’s post is part of the WOW-Women on Writing Blanket Tour for Healing with Words: A Writer’s Cancer Journey by Diana M. Raab, MFA, RN (www.dianaraab.com). The book includes Diana’s experiences, reflections, poetry and journal entries, in addition to writing prompts for readers to express their own personal stories. A survivor of both breast cancer and multiple myeloma, Raab views journaling to be like a daily vitamin–in that it heals, detoxifies and is essential for optimal health. Diana, the author of eight books, spent 25 years as a medical and self-help writer before turning to poetry and memoir. She teaches creative journaling and memoir in UCLA Extension Writers’ Program.
If you comment on today’s post you’ll be entered to win a copy of Healing with Words: A Writer’s Cancer Journey. To read Diana’s post about breast cancer and a list of other blogs participating in Diana’s Blanket Tour visit the WOW blog, The Muffin.