“From long-term health improvements to short-term benefits like sleeping better, it’s official: Writers are doing something right.”
Just the other day, I posted my response to this reader question:
The road from unpaid screenwriter to paid screenwriter is long, winding and unpredictable. It’s not certain that you’ll ever be one. How can one keep yourself motivated?
I wish I had stumbled across this Scientific America article earlier because I would have added it to my answer: “Science Shows Something Surprising About People Who Love to Write”. What is the surprise?
No matter the quality of your prose, the act of writing itself leads to strong physical and mental health benefits, like long-term improvements in mood, stress levels and depressive symptoms. In a 2005 study on the emotional and physical health benefits of expressive writing, researchers found that just 15 to 20 minutes of writing three to five times over the course of the four-month study was enough to make a difference.
By writing about traumatic, stressful or emotional events, participants were significantly more likely to have fewer illnesses and be less affected by trauma. Participants ultimately spent less time in the hospital, enjoyed lower blood pressure and had better liver functionality than their counterparts.
The act of writing itself leads to strong physical and mental health benefits.
So even if the path to success as a writer is “long, winding and unpredictable,” the very fact you are writing is a net plus in terms of your health. Fewer illnesses. Less trauma. Lower blood pressure. Better liver functionality. Even if you don’t make a dime off your writing, the physical and emotional benefits may make the effort worth it.
Then there’s this:
You don’t have to be a serious novelist or constantly reflecting on your life’s most traumatic moments to get these great benefits. Even blogging or journaling is enough to see results. One study found that blogging might trigger dopamine release, similar to the effect from running or listening to music.
People ask me all the time: How do you blog so much? Now I have the answer: Dopamine! Evidently blogging provides a natural high.
From long-term health improvements to short-term benefits like sleeping better, it’s official: Writers are doing something right.
In the past, I’ve always said this about writing: Do it because you love it. What this article proposes is a variation on that theme: Do it because it loves you!
Writing and the Creative Life is a weekly series in which we explore creativity from the practical to the psychological, the latest in brain science to a spiritual take on the subject. Hopefully the more we understand about our creative self, the better we will become as writers. If you have any good reading material in this vein, please post in comments. If you have a particular observation you think readers will benefit from and you would like to explore in a guest post, email me.
For more articles in the Writing and Creative Life series, go here.
Writing and the Creative Life: The act of writing provides health benefits was originally published in Go Into The Story on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
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Author: Scott Myers