The Psychological Benefits of Regular Writing
When you try to imagine a writer, I imagine many of you seeing a bizarre hermit hunched over a table in a hut, scattered on crumpled paper as they obsessively work on the next great American novel. But writing is much more.
This post originally appeared on the Help Scout blog .
Prose is believed to be on the page , which makes us all writers – even if we don’t have the chops to mess with Faulkner. In most cases, writing is most useful as a tool for thinking, expression, and creativity; Damn the hut writers.
Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of regular writing.
Therapeutic aspects of writing
Much of the research on writing and happiness is about “expressive writing,” or writing down what you think and how you feel. Even blogging “undoubtedly provides similar benefits” to private expressive writing in terms of therapeutic value.
Expressive writing also improves mood, well-being and reduces stress for those who do it regularly, according to Adam Grant :
“ Research by Laura King shows that writing articles about achieving goals and dreaming for the future can make people happier and healthier … Both Jane Dutton and I found that when people doing strenuous fundraising work spent several days a diary about how their work changed the world for the better. They increased their hourly efforts by 29% over the next two weeks. “
Moreover, laziness with words makes it difficult to describe feelings, share experiences and communicate with others. Being able to flesh out thoughts in your mind just to stumble as you speak is extremely frustrating. Fortunately, regular writing seems to provide some respite.
Both in emotional intelligence and in the exact sciences like mathematics, writing has been shown to help people communicate highly complex ideas more effectively. Writing helps eliminate “it sounded good in my head” by putting pressure on your hand; brains will forgive fuzzy abstractions, prose will not.
Writing can help you get through tough times.
In one study following recently laid off engineers, researchers found that engineers who consistently practiced expressive writing were able to find other jobs faster. Adam Grant says:
“Engineers who wrote down their thoughts and feelings about losing their jobs reported being less angry and hostile towards their former employer. They also reported that they drank less. Eight months later, less than 19% of the engineers in the control groups were rehired full-time, compared with over 52% of the engineers in the expressive group. ”
According to earlier research, writing traumatic events actually made participants even more depressed, until about 6 months later, emotional benefits began to show.
One participant commented, “Although I didn’t talk to anyone about what I wrote, I was finally able to deal with it, work through the pain instead of trying to block it. Now it doesn’t hurt to think about it. “
Timing seems to be critical for expressive writing to make an impact. Forcing the process can only make things worse, but if writing is an activity that one does naturally, the benefits seem obvious .
Letter and thanks
As noted by the authors of one study , subjects who reflected on the good things in their lives once a week by writing them down were more positive and motivated about their current situations and their future.
The catch was that when they wrote about them every day , the benefits were minimal. It makes sense; any activity can seem disingenuous and downright boring if done too often. It seems that the main thing is to regularly reflect and write about gratitude, but not too often.
Writing helps you manage your “mind tabs”
Have you ever had too many web tabs open at the same time? This is a crazy house of distraction. When I feel like there are too many tabs open in my brain at the same time, it is often the result of trying to mentally manipulate too many thoughts at the same time.
Writing gives shape to your ideas and gets them out of your head, freeing up bandwidth and preventing your browser from crashing like a downward spiral on Wikipedia late at night.
I personally never felt inclined not to work on something just because I “zipped” an idea with some notes or an outline – in fact, I’m more likely to continue developing this idea since it was already started.
If all else fails, remember Mitch Hedberg’s joke: “I sit in a hotel at night, think about something funny, then take a pen and write it down. Or, if the handle is too far, I have to convince myself that what I was thinking is not funny. “
Writing and Learning
Information often sticks better when it is assimilated, as if it needs to be taught or rewritten in your own words. This concept of the “writing ear” never fully appealed to me until I started writing regularly.
Writing interesting writing requires a discipline that requires a person to be receptive and focused on finding new sources of information, inspiration, and understanding. I’ve read books, listened to podcasts / radio, and watched videos that I would normally put off to learn new things to write about later.
Just being a curator of good ideas encourages deeper thinking, exploration, and “riding the rabbit hole” to find unique approaches to topics that matter to you. A commitment to creating volume of work also enables big ideas to be realized more effectively.
Working on a specific topic for some time will allow you to build on old thoughts, using what you’ve already written to develop ideas on a larger scale – I’m sure many authors have written the paragraph leading up to the essay that leads to a series of articles. which lead to the book.
Writing as Leadership to Scale
While the world may now be drowning in a flood of “personal brands”, there are some really interesting opportunities that the “anyone can publish” world opens up.
The ability to make a massive impact in your own words is an amazing concept. When someone sends you an email for the first time, there is a little creative shock in which you thank for the work you’ve done and share how it helped or influenced them.
There is no doubt that positive feedback on this “massive leadership” evokes gratitude and additional motivation from the writer.
Even in the face of criticism, writers learn to build thick skin like some others. Criticism, even unfounded, is the breakfast of champions.
The Psychological Benefits of Writing | Scout help