The Healing Power of Writing

August 26, 2016

writing heals

You may have heard the expression “where attention goes energy flows.” When it comes to a traumatic life event, it’s difficult to not obsess about what’s happening. Unfortunately, all that does is keep us stuck in the pain or discomfort associated with that life event. While it helps to talk about our feelings, it isn’t always in our best interest to keep sharing that information with others. If you keep telling the same story, you’re going to keep reliving that same moment. That isn’t an act that leads to living an inspiring life.

Luckily, there is a scientifically proven way to help you go through your emotions that is not only helpful in reducing your trauma, but will also allow you to create a story that helps you feel better as well. This method is as simple as picking up a pen or pencil and some paper.

That’s right – crafting a few written words is an easy and effective way to help the healing process. And, before you say, “But, I’m not a writer” — you don’t have to be! Studies have found that just 15 to 20 minutes of expressive writing three to four times over the course of four months can make a difference in your emotional and physical health.

Not only can writing help improve your health, it can help you heal faster as well. In a recent study in New Zealand, participants were asked to journal their thoughts and feelings for twenty minutes, three days in a row two weeks before a biopsy. After the biopsies, the researchers found that 76% of the group that wrote were healed after only eleven days. Only 48% of the group that didn’t write were healed in that same time period.

According to Dr. Pennebaker, a professor in the Department of Psychology at The University of Texas at Austin and pioneer in the study of using expressive writing as a route to healing,  “When people are given the opportunity to write about emotional upheavals, they often experience improved health. They go to the doctor less. They have changes in immune function. If they are first-year college students, their grades tend to go up. People will tell us months afterward that it’s been a very beneficial experience for them.”

Dr. Pennebaker also offers some advice as to why writing works. He explains, “Emotional upheavals touch every part of our lives. You don’t just lose a job, you don’t just get divorced. These things affect all aspects of who we are—our financial situation, our relationships with others, our views of ourselves, our issues of life and death. Writing helps us focus and organize the experience.”

And the benefits of writing don’t stop there. Studies have shown that writing can help reduce asthma attacks, help you sleep better, increase T-cell counts in AIDS patients and give cancer patients a more optimistic outlook and improved quality of life.

Sold on the benefits of writing? If so, you might be wondering how to start and what are the best methods. Here are a few tips….

Basic Guidelines

Whether you’re dealing with an emotional issue or you just want to make better sense of your life, taking some time to write out your thoughts will most certainly bring about some positive results. A good practice is to write about 750 words a day. This is roughly the amount needed to really get out what’s bothering you or what you want to say. One thing that is especially freeing about expressive writing is that it’s just free thought. You don’t need to concern yourself about structure, proper grammar or if it even makes sense. Your goal is to just get your thoughts, no matter how jumbled they may be, onto the paper.

Online Journaling

In its simplest form, writing is just the act of picking up a piece of paper and a pen or pencil and writing down your thoughts. However, not everyone enjoys the long hand form of writing. While the act of physically writing something does offer more benefits, you still get a boost from typing out your thoughts. In fact, you may be inclined to write more often since you’ll have easier access to online tools. A few good journaling sites you might want to try include:

Create a Journal

We often have more attachment to things that hold special value or meaning to use. You may find your writing quest more fulfilling if you create or purchase a special journal to be used just for this purpose.

Follow’s board Journal Ideas on Pinterest.

About Jennifer Good

Chief Inspiration Officer and Founder of Inspiration Insider. "You don’t need to wait to make a difference in your own life or the lives of others." - Anne Frank