The Mental Health Benefits of Creative Writing

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“Fear of the blank page.” Writing groups, classes, and websites address it. That such a fear even exists is only because, like many other wild and wonderful gifts, the blank page is misunderstood.

The blank page is not there to intimidate or judge or condemn. It does not berate the writer; does not gash red lines through the words penned upon it as it bellows, “NOT GOOD ENOUGH!” On the contrary, the blank page says, “Your thoughts and feelings are worthy of being written. Give them to me. I will hear them all.”

The blank page, though often referred to in the singular, is actually one of the numberless things in life. And so should you reach the blank page’s end and find yourself unsatisfied with all that you have written, fear not, for a gift the size of a new life awaits you: another blank page.

An agony in the mind can feel like a life sentence behind bars with no hope that the conviction will be overturned. The blank page is freedom. Everything is possible. And the pen, when given free rein, can help lead you to the keys that will unlock the prison doors.

There is a magic to writing that I cannot comprehend, but I am grateful it exists. Writing can transform the horrible into healing. It can take the brutal and turn it into something beautiful: a life raft for another human being. A head nodding, “Yes, I’ve felt that.” A terror dissipating, “No, I’m not alone.” A power rising, pledging, proving, “I will alter agony into art. I will spit awful truths onto this brave blank page, my mouth swapping saliva for ink so my pen can inscribe on the long scroll of ‘MUST BE HEARD’ all the words I cannot say. And then I will sing, take every last strand of suffering and weave tears into silver songs. I won’t just write down what torments me. I will write it out, and see my strength before my own eyes, for I have carried a burden that no one is meant to bear.”

Writing clears a space inside you. For flowers to root themselves, weeds must be uprooted. Writing is trowel and hoe and seeds and sun. Writing is water that grows gardens, vast and iridescent. Writing is the savior within you, who, letter by letter, keystroke by keystroke, takes the timid, shame-filled “i am here” out of the shadows and deep into the soul of the drum where it emerges rhythmic, sturdy, and courageous: “I AM HERE–I AM HERE–I AM HERE.” Writing is laughter shaking the foundation of your house, cracking its walls, breaking holes in the roof to let the dust and demons out and starlight in, and laying a path to the pathless woods with its voice as it giggles, “Follow me!” Writing is the magician come to change arms into wings.

The blank page before you beckons.

Author/illustrator, ESOL teacher, travel addict. “There are three things you must do in life: Be kind. Be kind. Be kind.” www.jordanamayim.com

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