Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Wellness Activity 2: Writing to Heal

According to Dr. James Pennebaker, one of the foremost experts on the subject of Writing to Heal, "Writing about emotional upheavals in our lives can improve physical and mental health." On his site, he suggests four topics to write about:

1. Something you are thinking or worrying about too much.
2. Something you are dreaming about.
3. Something you feel is affecting your life in an unhealthy way.
4. Something you have been avoiding for days, weeks, or years.

It's undoubtedly good advice and there have been long stretches when I've written about things that bothered me, and it did make me feel better. But for the last few months, I've decided that sometimes this kind of writing makes me feel worse. Lately, in my bleakest moments, I have wondered why I bother to write at all, and why I spend so much time doing it.

And then I picked up one of my favorite books, On Writing Well: An Informal Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Zinsser. While this book is about the craft of writing, and at first I couldn't see how it related to my topic, when I reached the last page, I had one of those, "aha moments."

This is for you, JayPeeFreely...

"My favorite definition of a careful writer comes from Joe DiMaggio, although he didn't know that was what he was defining. DiMaggio was the greatest player I ever saw and nobody looked more relaxed. He covered vast distances in the outfield, moving in graceful strides, always arriving ahead of the ball, making the hardest catch seem routine, and even when he was at bat, hitting the ball with tremendous power, he didn't appear to be exerting himself.

"I marveled at how effortlessly he looked because what he achieved could only be achieved by great effort. A reporter once asked him about this and he said, I always thought that there was at least one person in the stands who had never seen me play, and I didn't want to let him down."

And I realized that sometimes I'm motivated to write because I feel there must at least one person in cyberspace who is reading my blog for the first time, and liking it, and I don't want to let him or her down.


My Life with Bipolar Disorder said...

Dear Susan, It is true that you never know if your writing may help someone who is in need and happens to read your blog. In the past years before my diagnosis, I used to surf the net to read about the experiences of other people because I wanted to know that I was not alone and that others found help to cope. I am glad your writing is helping me and others, and it can bring some healing to yourself too :-) Take care. Regards, Nancie

Syd said...

... and then there are those of us in cyberspace who visit your blog regularly and are never disappointed! You, my dear, have a very special gift.

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Dear Nanci,
Thanks. You have been a very supporter reader, and I appreciate it.


Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Dear Syd,
And you, my dear, are a wonderful friend!


JayPeeFreely said...

Thanks for personal reference and Joe D.

It is amazing how Joe DiMaggio is still regarded as a 'perfect ballplayer standard.' His lifetime records are not astounding persay, but given NY media, his team's 10 WS titles in 11 tries, 56-game hitting streak and 'effortless' play in Centerfield, that goes to much of the mystique of DiMaggio.

He never said much too anyone - unless he trusted you, which wasn't many people at all - and he preoccupied himself with his 'image' - Marilyn Monroe as exhibit A. Yet, I think Joe knew he was 'on a stage' always. He had to be an example and wrote his baseball career as such.

He was afraid of failure; but he rarely ever failed. He lived an 'unpolished' life; yet had the most natural gifts in baseball which seemed so polished.

How many ballplayers did Joe inspire? God only knows.

But Joe replaced Babe Ruth, and Mickey Mantle never felt he lived up to the mantle of Joe D. Those HOF two had more prolific stats, yet won less with much more talent around them usually.

I am sorry to monopolize this post on Joe D. But you did it! ;)

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Dear JayPeeFreely,
As you know, baseball per see, isn't an interest of mine. But I couldn't resist the quote I found in my writing book. And I genuinely liked the vignette you told about Joe DiMaggio. Now that is is a great human-interest story!