Dr. Furnham’s Psychology Today article describes writing as a therapeutic yet challenging way to make sense of the past, take responsibility for your role in it, find connections between events and behavior, and tell it in an engaging way that makes it easier to gradually release the emotional pains tied to the past. An article in Advances in Psychiatric Treatment takes the benefits a step further by listing physical and psychological benefits of writing about our deepest thoughts such as fewer visits to the health clinics, improved immune system function, lowered blood pressure, improved lung function, improved liver function, reduced depression symptoms, quicker re-employment after job loss, higher grades, better sports performance and more.
These are benefits for people who had about four writing sessions of 15-20 minutes, but if these benefits can come from only a few writing sessions, how do you think you would benefit by taking your writings a step further by writing a short memoir that you can share with family and friends who may have similar situations and be in need of the inspiration that can come from hearing your story now that you are on the other side of some of your biggest life challenges?
It is a very big shift to go from writing for yourself to writing to share with others, and it is not a shift that everyone needs to take. But if you have ever felt the intense urge to turn your life’s lessons into a published book for the public, then consider starting by writing, dictating or video recording your message for yourself in a journal to help you make sense of your past before you jump into writing a memoir or autobiography. This approach will help you make peace with your past for yourself before you open yourself up to the public scrutiny that can come with publishing.