What follows is a brief summary of my thoughts about why and how writing heals us, which I’ve developed through my academic work in the field of literature and medicine and through my own reading, writing, and reflecting over a lifetime of living with a chronic condition.
Writing is a great way to pause and check in with ourselves about how we’re really feeling in a world that often moves too fast for self-reflection. Writing about our pain and frustrations, about emotions surrounding health challenges and medical treatments, can be wonderfully cathartic. Writing can also connect us to what makes us feel good, what improves our daily lives, and what brings us joy. Writing helps us get in touch with questions we didn’t know we were asking and with wisdom and insight we didn’t know we possessed. Ultimately, writing is a way of transforming these emotions and wisdom into art. Art allows us to connect with others’ experience and to share our own, to be heard and to realize we’re not alone. Others have felt and thought similarly in the past – sometimes millennia before we were born! – yet each person’s perspective is as unique as his or her genetic code.
On a more everyday note, I believe that a regular writing practice nourishes our minds and spirits in a holistic way similar to more physical practices like tai chi or yoga. As someone who’s been living with rheumatoid arthritis since childhood, I’m interested in how writing can be a wellness practice for those of us living with chronic conditions. My Heal Write workshops focus on writing as a process of self-inquiry and self-awareness that helps us maintain our health and well-being. I think anyone can benefit from this type of writing, whatever the state of your health.