The Healing Power of Writing: The Bipolar Question of the Week

John McManamy Health Guide
  • A lot of my posts here are devoted to the healing power of various activities. These posts tend to be inspired by stuff that makes me feel alive, but I have also sought your own experiences. Basically, whatever helps create a sense of flow - that feeling of total immersion in a particular activity - is going to be very good in your recovery. 


    So, off the top of my head, I have written about the healing power of: listening to music, playing music, playing the didgeridoo, movement and dance, owning pets, being out in nature, taking walks, cooking and preparing food, preparing food for others, various forms of stopping to smell the roses, attending cultural events, playing (say water volleyball) with the abandon of a five-year-old, being alone, being with friends, being with someone special, making videos, and engaging in volunteer work.

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    I have also written about the challenges of learning something new, which often involves overcoming incapacitating fears - in my case public speaking and driving. 


    Okay, get this. I’m a writer. I identify as a writer. I live to write. So what is the one thing I have left off the list? Knock me over with a feather. I have been writing for HealthCentral since October 2005. In all that time, I have not once written on the healing power of writing.


    I am hardly about to end that streak now. But do let me describe very briefly what has been going on in my life. In late October, I started work on a novel. I don’t expect to make a dime from it. This is just pure fun. The undertaking grew out of a series of wacky conversations with the special someone in my life. Next thing I knew, I was developing these wacky conversations into email narratives.


    Then one day - wham! - I had a clear vision of a novel, from beginning to end, all the pieces and how they would fit. As you can appreciate, I had no choice but to sit down and start writing. Writing is the wrong word for it. I don’t write so much as take dictation. The words seem to flow through me, as if from another source. A number of years ago, I heard Nancy Andreassen of the University of Iowa lecture on the brain and creativity. Here is a quote she cited from Mozart:


    "Whence and how [ideas] come, I know not; nor can I force them … Nor do I hear in my imagination the parts successively, but I hear them, as it were, all at once.”


    And from the mathematician Poincare: "Ideas rose in crowds; I felt them collide until pairs interlocked, so to speak, making a stable combination." 


    So, anyway, here I am, nearly 60,000 words into the story. The hero is an eccentric English lord who grew up around Uncle Charles (Darwin). The heroine is a Wild West outlaw who killed Custer at Little Big Horn. They have just met. Sparks are about to fly. I can’t wait to find out what happens next.


    There’s a question in this: Writing for you. Tell us about it.


    Note: This can include anything, from journaling to poetry to memoirs to blogging to song lyrics, on and on - you get the picture. Comments below ...

Published On: March 04, 2013