Q: Why write?
A: Why not?!
The idea came to me on my couch as Miranda and I were talking after dinner one early October evening. I was reminiscing about my time spent as a music therapist and dialectical behavior therapist on a maximum security forensic psych ward…you know…like you do…and I remembered, specifically, a creative writing group I used to lead for a group of our clients. I thought, wouldn’t it be wonderful to start that up again, in a non-treatment environment, because, really, who can’t benefit from writing? And Miranda, being Miranda, replied, “Great! So you’ll lead a monthly creative writing group for the Hearth community starting in February!” I took a brief moment and remembered all the benefits I, myself, (less many of the problems any of my clients faced day in and day out) felt from participating in that group said, “Of course!”
So, here we are. Truthfully, I’d been thinking about it a lot at that time. I’d read some articles from the New York Times that confirmed my notion that time intentionally spent reflecting and writing can seriously improve your mood and your LIFE! And I’d known about a few others, from my working therapist days, that confirmed that practicing expressive and creative writing can dramatically improve your mental health. For example, a 2005 article published in the medical journal, Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, states that writing can “improve mood/affect,” “improve immune system functioning” and “higher students’ grade point average” to name a few! There are a number of studies available now, to back up this idea – just google search “health benefits of writing” and you’ll come upon articles published by nearly every major news outlet as well as countless medical journals. If you’re reading this and thinking, “But Kara, I function just fine, I don’t need to write to feel better” I challenge you to think of a way that writing could possibly make you feel worse in the long run. If you can’t think of one, come on out and give it a try!! I’m not saying we’re all broken and need to write to fix anything in our lives, but that through writing, we may feel more empowered and more grounded and happier and doesn’t everyone want that always?!
Functionally, the idea I have for the group is actually a mixture of things I’ve read lately and practices I used back at the state hospital. Don’t worry, if you come, it doesn’t mean that you’re crazy. 😉 We’ll start each session with a few moments of gratitude writing – in other words, writing down things you’re grateful for. This has proven to dramatically improve one’s mood – google search that one! From there, we’ll shift into free writing or journaling. This is to give those of us crippled by the “too busy” disease, a dedicated time to sit and reflect. From there I’ll read a prompt and we’ll create a story based on the prompt. If we feel like it, sometimes we may even do two shorter ones! After that, those of us who would like to, can read our stories and see what magic happens when you give different people the exact same stimuli. We are fascinating creative creatures!
That’s about it! I am very excited to pilot this program with you all at next week’s Hearth Dinner. Bring a pad of paper and a pen and let’s see what happens! As always, tickets are $10 at the door but you get in free if you bring a potluck dish to share! Yummy.
See you all Sunday at 6pm in Harvard Square!