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.