Are you writing a novel? It may well be therapeutic. Over the past decades, studies have shown that both writing and art have therapeutic effects.
Writing a novel may be good for you
Writing has been used as a therapy to recover from emotional trauma as well as to aid physical healing.
For example, a JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) article from 1999 was titled: “Effects of writing about stressful experiences on symptom reduction in patients with asthma or rheumatoid arthritis: a randomized trial.”
The study concluded that writing offered: “clinically relevant changes in health status at 4 months compared with those in the control group.”
Many writers and authors have suffered from ill health for much of their lives. As the saying goes… much of the world’s work is done by people who weren’t feeling well at the time.
Julius Caesar, for example, arguably the most effective military commander in history, suffered from epilepsy. Not only did he command his legions, and live in the field with his soldiers, Caesar was a prolific writer.
Caesar wrote well. Cicero, no slouch at writing either, wrote of Caesar’s Gallic War (a seven-volume work):
The Gallic War is splendid. It is bare, straight and handsome, stripped of rhetorical ornament like an athlete of his clothes. … There is nothing in a history more attractive than clean and lucid brevity.
Tip: if you’d like to be as prolific as Caesar and Cicero, consider dictating some of your writing, as these busy men did.
Tips to boost your creativity while you’re writing a novel
Want to boost your creativity? These tips may help.
1. Be guided by your intuition: if you’re ill, journaling can’t hurt, and may help you to heal
Do you feel you’d like to write about your illness? If so, do it, with this proviso: if you’re under the care of a medical professional, ask his or her advice about therapeutic writing before you start.
In the study referenced in the JAMA article above, they assigned patients to write about the most stressful event in their lives. They assigned the control group of patients to write about neutral topics.
2. Use journaling to lessen your stress
Unless you’re under the care of a doctor, please don’t write about events that are traumatic. However, you can write about stressful situations, if your intuition nudges you to do so.
Many years ago, when my children were small, I suffered from panic attacks. In those days, doctors were happy to medicate for any reason at all, so I ended up on medication for some months.
My intuition nudged me to write, so I wrote in my journal.
I used prompts:
- What do I need to know today?
- What can I learn from… (an event)?
- What’s my best response to… (an event)?
When my medication ran out, I kept writing. Over time, my panic attacks occurred less often, and finally stopped.
3. Follow your intuition for ways to build your writing muscles
Is your intuition nudging you to doodle or paint? If so, consider taking an evening class. When speaking about creativity with writers, art journaling seems a popular activity. There’s a lot of satisfaction in splashing paint onto paper or canvas.
En Plein air (outdoor) painting is fun, and gets you out into the fresh air. Want company? Most towns, no matter how small, have an art society. Members take their paints with them on hikes, or have urban sketching days.
Watercolor painting has definitely enhanced my creativity. Not only is painting fun, it builds your writing muscles, because you become more observant. I often pause during my daily walk to marvel at the many colors in a cloudy sky, or at the variegated greens in trees.
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