There are many things that we can do that are beneficial to our well-being. The things we eat, the exercise we take such as walking and even the hobbies that we engage in, for example, gardening, which is shown to reduce stress. But what about writing? Are there any well-being benefits to writing?
Following the publication of a real-life story, ‘Conquering Stress with Writing‘ by Chrissy Polovich, got me thinking about this subject and to answer the question, ‘Why writing is good for you’. I, therefore, set out to research the subject and write this blog post. What did I discover?
Fortunately, most of us learn to read and write. The ability read and write well are likely to be the 2 most important life skills that we can have. They open up to us a world of communication, discovery and education without which life would be very different. We can read and write for pleasure or for many other reasons.
Writing can take many forms such as blogging, letter or email writing, poetry, writing a book, keeping a journal or diary, reports, theses, and much more. In my research, it appears that writing journals and blogging are leaders at helping with our well-being. I have never been much of a diarist but I know many people who love to keep a diary or journal.
A diary or journal is quite personal and unlikely to be read by anyone else unless you allow them or it’s read after your death. Blogging by nature is meant to be open to the world. The early bloggers were people sharing their journals online but of course, blogging has developed into much more than that.
Writing allows a person to literally spell out their feelings and as the saying goes, to ‘get things off their chest’. We are all aware that if we undergo some stress or traumatic event in our lives it’s good to talk to someone who is a good listener. Such people are not always around when we need them and so being able to write down our disquieting thoughts can be very therapeutic. Quite often the act of writing these thoughts down can help one to reflect and put into perspective what the situation really is and not allow the issues to be larger than they really are. It also gives our brains time to unscramble the information and begin to make logical sense of it.
By keeping a journal we can also look back on the things we have written, to see the progress we have made and the lessons learned in our lives. Over time we might see patterns in our life that we can use for the future and be able to benefit from past experience. It is said that such writing helps to increase our emotional intelligence and therefore helps us to manage our emotions much better.
Writing can also help us to improve our mental abilities to learn and solve problems. For instance, let’s say that you have an important decision to make, perhaps you have been offered a new job. Should you accept the position? Well, why not write down a list of the pros and cons? It’s a long standing suggested method of making a decision but how many of us actually do it? The action of having to seriously think and write down advantages and disadvantages is very powerful and helps us to arrive at the best answer for ourselves.
Writing too can help us to improve our memory. I have found that taking notes can help me to remember something, even if I don’t revisit the notes afterwards. Writing notes, not word for word copying, helps us to focus on the key ideas of what was said and recording that in our notes reinforce the points in our memory.
Would you like to improve your communication skills? By writing for an audience, such as when you have a blog helps you to develop communication skills. The more often you write and check over what you have written the more you will improve. Whenever you write a blog post, think about your audience, just as though they were sitting physically in front of you. You need to take into account their age and experience. What are they already likely to know and what level of language and reading skills will they have? Imagine explaining how a petrol engine works to a 7-year-old compared to 25-year-old? It will be very different. Then imagine you are explaining a new improved part of that engine to someone with little knowledge compared to an experienced mechanic. This very action helps you to improve because it makes you think carefully and use words, phrases and methods that will be better for your reader.
Write Down Your Goals
Most successful people will tell you that they write down their goals. They imagine where they want to be and how they are going to achieve it, then write this down in a place they can refer to every day. The action of writing is a kind of affirmation and continuing to read and maybe add to those goals helps them greatly to focus.
Pen v Keyboard
Writing by hand can help you to learn better as it appears the action of writing as opposed to typing has a more physical link to the brain. When we type, it is a matter of just pressing the correct keys, but with writing, it is about forming shapes with the movement of our hand and arm. I know from experience that if I write down notes on paper, rather then type them onto my iPad or computer I find it easier to recall to mind the handwritten notes. This is not just about memory as mentioned earlier but the whole process of improving our mental abilities to reason and understand.
I recommend that you purchase a nice pen to write with and if you really want to enjoy fine writing try using a fountain pen. Do remember though, that when writing with a fountain pen you will need paper that is suitable as the ink can bleed into the paper.
Letter and emails
In the not too distant past, people wrote letters to loved ones and others to share their thoughts and feelings and to keep in touch. In many parts of the world this has been replaced by the telephone and email or worse still all communication has been lost. Writing a letter is still a good thing to do and if it’s to someone close to us, a handwritten letter in my opinion is far better than a typed one. Email is great and instant but the action of sending one does not necessarily show any special effort and once read it can be easily lost in amongst all the others received. A letter is often kept, sometimes for life and people have boxes containing those letters that have special meaning.
I would like to hear from my readers about your experience with writing. Please let me know in the comments box below.