The Happy Benefits of Writing

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It’s not just readers who benefit from a good story.

We writers can too apparently.

There is a fascinating article on the New York Times Blog about research carried out on people through expressive writing (or life-story writing).

It may sound like self-help nonsense, but research suggests the effects are real.

The scientific research on the benefits of so-called expressive writing is surprisingly vast. Studies have shown that writing about oneself and personal experiences can improve mood disorders, help reduce symptoms among cancer patients, improve a person’s health after a heart attack, reduce doctor visits and even boost memory.

Now researchers are studying whether the power of writing — and then rewriting — your personal story can lead to behavioural changes and improve happiness.

New York Times blog

If you were paying attention you’ll have read the post about behavioural changes (among other things) through reading stories. The research goes on to suggest that similar things happen when we are writing:

The concept is based on the idea that we all have a personal narrative that shapes our view of the world and ourselves. But sometimes our inner voice doesn’t get it completely right. Some researchers believe that by writing and then editing our own stories, we can change our perceptions of ourselves and identify obstacles that stand in the way of better health.

So if you’re a writer you’ll be getting a double whammy of the health benefits and self-improvement – by reading and writing.

Who needs the gym?