Updated: Sep 2, 2019
Hi, genuine writers! This is Innovative Editing’s Jeannette DiLouie welcoming you to episode #31 of The Genuine Writer Podcast. We keep things short, sweet and to the point here so that you can learn what you need to learn and get back to writing already.
Today’s episode – which discusses how creative writing can help you become a more emotionally, psychologically and even physically balanced person – is sponsored by The Adulteress, a story about emotional, psychological and even physical abuse. It describes a suffocating network of religion, ego and control, and what it’s truly like to break free from that kind of tyranny. Follow the paths of Keziah, a young Jewish woman with an angry husband; and Demetrius, a Roman soldier who hates almost everything about life. Together, they’ll hit rock bottom before they’re ready to recognize the intensely worthwhile reality right in front of their eyes.
The Adulteress is available in both print and Kindle copies, and I’ll make sure to include the Amazon link in the description section.
As for the podcast section, this is the very last part of our “Oh, the Things You Can Learn From Creative Writing” series. It seems a little odd or off or something otherwise not quite right to only have nine instead of 10 points to this. But it started out as a presentation, and I could only fit nine points in. Actually, I had to work really hard to get that many points in, cutting information out and editing down what I wanted to say about each of them. So this is the result.
To give you a quick recap on the previous eight, we’ve discussed how creative writing can help you:
Become a better writer
Learn more about history, science, professions, ideologies, ideas, etc.
Love the act of learning
Take criticism and understand that you’re not the end-all, be-all
Put that criticism to good use
Take pride in your accomplishments and spur you on to even bigger things
Become more intelligent.
And now here’s number 9: Creative writing can help you become a healthier person at least mentally and emotionally, if not physically.
They’ve done studies on this, with many of them indicating that creative writing, journaling or other types of nonfiction writing can help combat what ails us. Take the 2014 write-up on Alzheimers.net, which interviewed a Dr. Daniel C. Potts, founder of Cognitive Dynamics. While the piece acknowledges that there have been more studies done on music therapy in this regard, Dr. Potts said there’s still:
… some good evidence that the available therapies may work best in combination. For example, art therapy plus music and dance. Or within an art therapy session, combining creative writing and poetry, or a drama therapy session that makes use of written and spoken word, art and music in concert. What is certain is that all of them work better when reminiscence and personal expression make up an integral part of the therapy, where care is taken to not only help patients reminisce, but also to validate their present reality.
That last line is as good a segue as any into Dr. Caroline Leaf, who I only discovered this year. She’s phenomenally interesting. Though she never mentions writing directly that I know of, I highly recommend that you watch her four-part series on YouTube. She’s a neuroscientist who has done extensive research on healing the brain in every single way possible, whether mentally, physically, emotionally or psychologically. I’ll include the link for the first video in the podcast transcript, but you can also look her up by searching “How to Detox Your Brain – Part 1” on YouTube.
If you do, you’ll hear her tell the story of a young woman in 11th grade who got into a car accident. It was such a physically traumatic experience that she was left with literal holes in her brain and was in a coma for two whole weeks. The doctors didn’t expect her to ever wake up and, if she did, they said she’d be a vegetable. Yet due to her parents’ determination and then her own, that girl went on to not only wake up but also graduate with her 12th-grade class – with a higher IQ than she’d displayed before the accident. It’s a pretty phenomenal story, and Dr. Leaf says it’s just one of many that she’s personally seen and researched.
Now, I am going to give you the heads up that she comes from a Christian perspective in all of this. But before you dismiss her for that, let me tell you that she has scientific data to back up her beliefs, complete with images of brain splices and secular studies and neuroscientific explanations that will leave you going “Wow!”
One of the major points – if not the major point – she makes is how focusing on the negative actually physically warps your brain. Whereas focusing on the positive can heal it. According to her website:
… everything you say and do is first a physical thought in the physical brain, a thought which you built with your mind. You think and then you do, which cycles back to the original thought, changing it and the thoughts connected to it in a dynamic interrelationship. Hence, if your thinking is toxic, then your communication and behavior are toxic, and vice versa. In the same way, looking at a person’s language and communication is reflective of what is happening in their mind and brain.
Her solution then is to get your thinking in order to welcome in a whole range of positive effects. And, again, she’s got some pretty significant proof to back up what she says.
But even if you do buy into what she says, what does that have to do with creative writing when 1) I already admitted that she never once mentions it in her four-part video series and 2) creative writing so often throws characters into intensely negative situations. Using my novels alone, you’ll find characters getting chased across continents, kidnapped and dragged across state lines, almost stoned to death, and forced to house enemy combatants during an already miserable war. A few other plots that pop into my head from other authors include characters having their fingers ripped off, being chewed into by lions, and brutalized by the head of a trafficking ring.
For the record, it’s very valid to bring all of that up against my claim that creative writing can put you in a better mood. But here’s my response to that very valid argument… By writing about someone else’s problems and how he or she overcomes them, you’re actively not focusing on yourself. You’re problem-solving. You’re making something new instead of floundering in the old.
And that right there is powerful stuff. Powerful enough to reverse negative mental thought patterns that can do significant damage to your mind, your body and your very soul. Have you ever heard that you can’t accomplish anything? Prove that person or those people wrong by writing a story. Have you ever heard that you’re useless? Put together a plot that showcases the worth of the human spirit – yours included. The more you write, the more you’ll begin to see all the other points we’ve covered in this series come true.
As usual, I could keep blathering about this writing topic for a very long time, so I’m going to cut myself off for now. But I genuinely urge you to try it out for yourself. What can it hurt? Better yet, what can it help?
Thanks as always for tuning into The Genuine Writer Podcast. It was great having you here, and I promise to come up with some more great episodes going forward to help you keep on writing what you’re supposed to be writing. Until next week, here’s wishing you the best!