The Health Benefits of Writing

First, an announcement: I recently started a new blog…over at kimfosterwrites.com. And the main reason for that: I have a book deal!

 *pops champagne*

For a long time I’ve been a closet novelist. I’m talking years of scribbling away and inhabiting the imaginary worlds of my brain. At long last, just this past July, my agent landed me a 3-book deal with Kensington Books in New York, and my first novel is due out in May 2013.

But this all leads me to my topic today, which is: the health benefits of writing.

It’s a niche research topic, to be sure, but studies have shown that creative and expressive writing can be a therapeutic exercise. Writing helps reduce anxiety, provides an emotional outlet, and can guide people through traumatic life events such as bereavement and coping with serious illness.

But there’s more to writing than stress reduction and emotional support. Turns out there’s physiologic benefit too.

Here’s what some of the research has shown. Regular writing can:

  • sharpen your memory
  • improve your sleep
  • boost immune cell activity
  • speed healing after surgery
  • improve well-being (mental and physical) in cancer patients

Studies have shown benefit from all manner of writing styles: expressive writing, journalling, formal writing therapy, poetry, and even blogging (which is, in its purest sense, a form of expressive writing).

One of my fave bloggers (and my editor at Yummy Mummy Club, as it happens…), the super-clever Ali Martell, calls her blog Cheaper Than Therapy. And she is oh-so-right.

The therapeutic value of writing is certainly something writers have long known. I know I’m not the only writer who reports feeling a tad grouchy if I don’t get my regular writing time. And, as long as you don’t go all Hemingway and drink yourself into a self-destructive spiral, there is health benefit to be had. (Also, as long as you stand up and walk away from the computer from time to time, yes?)

So how about you? Do you write? Is it therapeutic for you? Are you a healthier, happier person for it?

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7 Comments on “The Health Benefits of Writing

  1. Dr Kim,

    First of all, congratulations on your book deal! That’s fantastic news! Amazing news, actually. 😉

    On your related post of writing and the stress reducing effects thereof… I hear you. I don’t write fiction (although I would love to try my hand at it some day), but nonetheless, there is something incredibly soothing about writing – when it’s going well, of course. Sometimes, not so much. 😉

    In all seriousness, writing is one of the things that keeps me on an even keel – along with working out and playing guitar.

    My question is… where the heck do you find the time for all this? You’re an M.D., a mom, a blogger and now a “soon to be” published writer – how you do it, I’ll never know.

    Anyhow, congratulations once again and my hat is off to you!

    All the best,

    Paul

    • Thanks Paul! Yes, finding the time…well, that’s always the tricky bit. Not sure I have an answer, except that I have to be super-disciplined and organized. Also? I have no idea what shows are on TV these days. And my house? Not going to be winning any awards for cleanliness any day soon. I guess it’s about priorities.

      You should absolutely try your hand at fiction. Even if you don’t plan on letting anyone else read it (at least at first), it’s fun and creative, and exercises bits of your brain that you may not have used since you were a kid.

      Cheers!

  2. CONGRATULATIONS! This is such fabulous news. Can I say I (sort of) knew you when?
    Yes, I write. I blog and I’m making a concerted effort to dedicate time to fiction.
    You’re an inspiration Kim!

  3. Love this post Kim- I have been writing ever since I was like…3. I’ve filled dozens of journals as therapy and instead of talking to people, I’d often write to say everything that I needed to say and not be interrupted. And now I blog:) And just so you know- you’re really inspiring me to get my butt in gear and start writing a book (something that I’ve wanted to do for a while). Congrats on your book deal- so happy for you!! 🙂

    • Yep, I hear you about the dozens of journals…my greatest fear is somebody getting their hands on all that stuff someday 😉

      Yay–totally get your butt in gear and write a book! Just do it. One sentence at a time.

      Thanks for the nice words, Sarah!

  4. Pingback: The Health Benefits of Writing « kim foster

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