I am pleased to announce the birth of a new blog, Writing for the Health of It. Few regular readers will be surprised at this news, as I have included this concept in many posts here, and mentioned the Writing For the Health of It classes I teach.
The Heart and Craft of Life Writing blog will remain active, with one or two posts a week focusing on the process of writing. Writing for the Health of It will focus on the vast body of research exploring health benefits of expressive writing, and how those findings can be applied to the various forms of life writing. You are likely to find lots of cross-links because the boundaries are fuzzy and overlapping.
The new blog represents my growing understanding of the power of the life writing process. Perhaps like most of you, I began writing my lifestory primarily to document my experiences and insights for my family. I wanted to leave a written legacy of my life. I read books that mentioned personal insight and a sense of satisfaction as frequent outcomes of writing memoir. That sounded good and made sense, but it was not a primary goal for me, and though I paid the concept lip service, I really didn’t “get it.”
For eight or nine years I cranked out one vignette and essay after another, rather like a quilter practicing various designs on single squares. Someday, I told myself, I’ll sort through these squares and arrange them into a quilt — probably several quilts... But not just yet.
Eventually writing single pieces did become less satisfying. I’ll never exhaust the possibilities of all the stories I could write, but it was time to begin assembling them. My first finished product, The Albuquerque Years, fell together easily. You may have downloaded the eBook.
I’ve been tinkering with its sequel, A Los Alamos Girlhood, for a year now, and learned an enormous amount in the process. My most significant insights about the are detailed in my Los Alamos Girlhood blog that has lain dormant for a few months, but I do still post occasionally.
The other insight I have gained from writing short pieces and puzzling out the structure of Los Alamos Girlhood relates to the transformative power of digging more deeply into memoir and its component pieces. As I question memories and work to clarify my understanding of the past, chains of anxiety and other dark feelings are falling away, almost like magic. The experience has been much like washing the scum from time-crusted windows. My childhood looks much brighter and sunnier than I had realized.
That experience has led me to delve more deeply into the mysteries of the power of writing to make us whole, transform inner darkness to light, and heal broken hearts and spirits. Thus my triumvirate of blogs represents Heart (A Los Alamos Girlhood — my experience with writing), Craft (The Heart and Craft of Life Writing — how to write your story), and Health (Writing for the Health of It — how to tap the health benefits of writing).
Write now: take a break from writing. Click over to Writing for the Health of It and sign up for a subscription. As you scan the posts there, find an idea and use as a prompt for some writing practice.