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The Written Word: The Use Of Writing As Stress Relief


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The pen…the page…the words.

Ideas flowing swiftly from mind the page, until the two connect. One being. One world.

Idyllic? Perhaps…for anyone who has attempted to breach the barrier knows that the world of words is often abstruse…elusive. It is slotted between cups of coffee…headaches and heartbreaks…tears and sighs.

But the reward is worth it. It must be. Why else would anyone write?

Writing is becoming an increasingly prominent art form, as is testified by the growing number of Blogspot, WordPress, and Tumblr sites, as well as pulp fiction and e-readers falling off the shelves. But why? What reward do the adventurous pioneers of this verbosity seek? Fame? Money? Publicity? Impossible. These are remunerations not easily gained. Indeed, fewer than 1% of all requests sent to publishers ultimately become available to the public market. In other words, for every book published, over 1,000 have been rejected. Publication itself is no guarantee of success, either. However, statistics such as these do not seem to discourage the masses of writers accumulating on computers, chat rooms, forums, and publishers’ inboxes; rather, the numbers only seem to be steadily increasing.   “Penulis” means “writer” in Malay.

One possible explanation for this explosive interest in writing may lie in the therapeutic potential of engaging in the art of writing itself. The act of writing has been proven to serve as an effective form of stress relief…a catharsis. A blank page offers no interruptions. No criticisms. It is a silent friend, ready and waiting. A pen and a few minutes of quiet solitude allow the writer to enter a meditative state, nearly approximating a trance. A writer can write without worrying about impressions, reception, feelings, or even truths. Writing offers an outlet, safe and secure. An exploration of the psyche….of the cognition. Oftentimes, writers discover things about themselves they never knew or realised. Suppressed fears and anxieties, forgotten hopes and dreams, festering wou nds, doubts. Writing allows the writer to tear off the layers…to peel away the skin, exposing the juicy fruit inside.

What type of writing best relieves stress? The answer to this question is simple: all types! Autobiographical. Non-fiction. Journalistic. Fiction. Even high fantasy, if you like. All writing connects with the author, in some way…and the reader as well. Even the most famous, renowned authors cannot write about what they do not know. The written world is a real world, a real place, for the author. It is a reflection of the self…of the soul. Amateur writers who wonder how they differ from best-selling authors are often surprised by the results. Both sets of writers write about their lives, their emotions, their worlds…the best-selling author just twists it into an engaging plot with multidimensional characters and quirky elements…like a fire-breathing rhinoceros or a nine-year-old pro athlete.

Consider recent best-selling fantasy series: Harry Potter, Twilight, The Hunger Ga mes. Why do these appeal to us? Do we remember watching our owl fly through the window with our acceptance letter? No, of course not! But, perhaps, we do remember waiting for our college acceptance letters…the phone call for our first job…the email saying “Yes! You’ve won!” The anticipation…the heightened emotion…that is what we know, we feel, we relate to. And thus it is with all writers. We write about emotions. We write through emotions.

It doesn’t have to be good. It doesn’t have to be ordered or neat. No need for profound thoughts or life-changing decisions. Just write…whatever comes naturally. Your mind will reorder itself…and perhaps you’ll find out a little bit about yourself, too.

So why not give it a try? Pick up a pen, and a piece of paper…and let the words flow!