Monday, January 11, 2010

Yeah! What He Said!

I was lucky enough to catch a snippet of an NPR interview with author Richard Wiseman today on my way from point P to point Q (points A through O having already been navigated much earlier in the day). He has recently published a self-help book that actually examines the claims of other such books and dispenses advice based on scientific research he has compiled. Not being an avid reader of self-help books, I was only listening with one ear when something caught my attention. Mr. Wiseman claims that, through research trials of his own, he has discovered the benefits of "expressive writing" for individuals who are seeking some solution to a dilemma. Hmmm.

I perked up a little. Seems that he has found that talking to friends or family or even a therapist proves somewhat helpful to a person in distress, but simple expressive writing offers a deeper level of understanding and comfort. (By the way, I found this definition of "expressive writing" - Expressive writing is the kind of writing you do when your primary purpose is to explore and/or communicate your personal experience, your opinions about things, your response to the world, including the world of reading. The writing is focused on you the writer instead of an objective subject outside yourself.) Mr. Wiseman discovered, through his research, that the simple act of forming the sentences, crafting the words, and adhering to the mechanics of writing help to organize a person's thoughts and clarify their desires.

I was struck. Yeah. I get it. Even though the vast majority of my writing occurs in my head prior to actually getting it down, when I'm 'writing' in my head, I think altogether differently than I do when I am venting to a girlfriend or crying to my mother. The act of knowing that there will be some audience for my words, whether it is an email to a confidante or a blog post or a chapter in the book I'm working on, gives the words a different weight. It helps me to cut through the bulls&*t and figure out what my point is. What am I asking for? Support? Advice? Amusement?

Mr. Wiseman went even further to say that this kind of writing is prevalent in relationships that are strong and solid. Those married couples who took the time to communicate with each other in writing (via emails, text messages or love letters) tend to be more communicative overall and stay together longer. Now that was food for thought. I know that when Bubba and I sit and talk and I'm emotional and unclear on what it is I want or even what I'm complaining about, he gets frustrated at my "all over the map" communication style. When I take the time to write it out and organize it for myself, I am more rational and clearer about my needs and wants, and Bubba is more responsive. Maybe it's a good thing he travels so much and I'm forced to send him emails or text messages to convey important issues. Maybe we were on the right track, after all.

Maybe I'll go write him a love letter right now.


Anonymous said...

I've always felt like me writing to my husband was a cop out, apparently not. I have a hard time organizing my thoughts when I'm upset, writing allows me the time to organize them and to look at my thoughts more objectively.

I heard a radio show a few years ago, the author of The Happiness Hypothesis was on and he talked about people going through trauma. The people who wrote for fifteen minutes a day fared much better than the people who underwent talk therapy.

Carrie Wilson Link said...

Can't talk now, sending this to everyone I know!


Deb Shucka said...

I love this scientific validation of something I've known for years. Thank you so much for sharing his words. Walt will be wondering why I'm slipping him notes more.

Scott from Oregon said...

So true.

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