Writing Your Way to Health and Creativity -- By Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, PhD


I started writing as a teen to make sense of a very messy life and dysfunctional family, and in the process, I found that just putting pen to paper helped me find meaning, possibilities, and joy from the sheer act of making something on the page. Since then, I've explored how writing can help us heal, connect with our callings and life's work, and discover what we have to say to ourselves and the world.


Along the way, I also discovered how much writing enhances our health, and no wonder: in the last two decades many researchers, particularly Dr. James Pennebaker, have thoroughly documented the value of short (just 15 minutes a day) writing stints to boost the immune system, lower blood pressure, increase circulation, and mitigate stress (You can see more at Cambridge University Press and the Harvard Medical School) What's more, such writing helps us transform trauma or at least loosen its hold on us.


At the same time, just diving into writing about life's hard stuff -- what massive grief or abuse we experienced, for example -- can, if not done with care at the right time for us, leave us spinning our emotional wheels in the mud. For this reason, I often coach and teach people ways we can bring ourselves more light and freedom through short, focused writing prompts that allow us to see ourselves and our stories with new eyes.


How to Get Started


First, find a time and place to write each day for 10-15 minutes (truly, you'll be amazed at how much you can write in short bursts) that fit into your schedule and energy ebbs and flows. For me, writing shortly after breakfast is a great way to bring a fresher take on life to my writing than what I would access in the late afternoon, but we all have our own rhythms.