Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My Inner Critic Questions Writing for Health

Despite their reputations as stone walls for writers, inner critics are not inherently evil and don’t deserve a death sentence. When we learn how to listen to them, they can give us valuable guidance. As I sat with my journal, recording thoughts about this blog, the book on this topic I’m refining, and the whole subject of writing for the health of it, I was assailed by burning questions: “Why am I doing this? Why am I working so hard? What on earth difference does it really make?”

Even though these questions were phrased in first person, I recognized the voice of my Inner Critic, aka Gretchen. My first thought as I heard these questions was dismay. Why would these questions plague me? I strongly believe in what I’m doing and the importance of this message. Why would doubts arise? Then I recognized another aspect of the questions. These are questions readers will have, a form of “What’s In This for Me?” I partly answered this question in the first post I wrote, “Four Benefits of Expressive Writing.” But that’s just one angle.

A random list flowed onto the page. In my journal I use the abbreviation W4H — Writing for (the) Health (of it), and I shall use it here in the interests of space and streamlined writing.
  • W4H is the writer's multi-vitamin. It gives you tools for getting get more healthful benefits from journaling and other life writing you are already doing.
  • W4H writing tools like describing emotions and perceptions make stories more interesting to readers.
  • Many people will only take W4H seriously when they understand the scientific validity of the techniques.
  • W4H concepts remove the competitive edge from personal writing by emphasizing the message, “Write for yourself first, then decide about sharing.”
  • W4H can morph your Inner Critic into a personal coach.
  • W4H gives extra purpose and meaning to your writing and adds an additional layer of satisfaction.
  • W4H provides many of the same benefits as working with a life coach or  mental health professional, and it’s readily available any time and place, if you can’t afford professional help, don’t know how to find it, or feel your problems aren’t that urgent. If you are working with one, or later decide to, writing between sessions can help you get more value from their services.
  • W4H can deepen relationships between family members and within the community.
  • W4H is one of the ways to “Let peace begin with me,” leading to peace on earth.
This last point is the most compelling to me, and encompasses all the others. I thank Gretchen for goading me to make the list and get clear on the reasons why writing for the health of it matters. Future posts elaborate on the details for each of these points.

Write now: list reasons why writing for your health (physical and/or emotional) matters to you. What benefits might you derive from it? What questions and doubts do you have. If you post these questions and doubts in a comment (use "Anonymous" and a fake email address if you prefer) I’ll address them in future posts. Or email them to me directly.

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