I started writing when I was four years old and I never stopped. There are many carefully stored floppy discs with my first stories, or at least attempts at writing a story, “digital” diary entries I wrote on my dad’s old Mac Classic, school essays dealing with thrilling subjects like “How I spent my Summer”.
At this point none of them have any value save for the sentimental one, but as it turns out, the very act of writing is pretty important all by itself, at every age and even if you never become the next big novelist on the New York Time’s reading list.
The Power Of Editing
The power of writing is a pretty hot topic in the scientific community and researchers are studying how writing your personal story can cause behavioural changes and improve happiness.
Apparently writing about yourself and your personal experiences can reduce mood changes, boost memory, help cancer patients reduce symptoms and generally improve your health.
It’s all about writing down your story – and then editing it – which puts you in the place of an objective observer and makes you look at what you are experiencing from a different perspective. By taking the proverbial mighty pen and crossing out lines, revising the story and changing the way you write about yourself and your experiences, can change your perception of your own life events, and hence your attitude and mood.
A writing study asked married couples to write about one of their marital conflits as a third party observer and found that those who examined their problems through writing showed greater marital bliss than those who didn’t.
Apparently, revising your own lines and approaching your troubles from a different perspective makes you more optimistic, said Timothy D. Wilson, the lead author of the Duke study, where college students were asked to write positively about themselves and bettered their grades in the process:
These writing interventions can really nudge people from a self-defeating way of thinking into a more optimistic cycle that reinforces itself.
Another study found that just 15 to 20 minutes of expressive several times a month is enough to make a difference and positively influence your mood. No matter how much you decide to write, researchers believe that the very act of expressive writing allows you to stop obsessing over an event, and makes you focus on moving forward.
Sharing Is Caring
So writing down your story and your experience is important, according to science, but according to the traditions as old as mankind sharing stories is what builds up people and communities. One of those communities gathers at MyStory.Me, whose users write about positive and negative experiences in their lives, in English, Dutch, German, Polish and French.
There are stories of relationships, acceptance, love and finding a purpose in life, but also those dealing with fear, stressful situations and personal trauma. The styles and forms vary, and so do the experiences, but the point remains the same – writing about what you’ve been through and sharing it with others.
Give it a try, you may find that writing is just your cup of tea!