Why We Write

WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF ONE WOMAN TOLD THE TRUTH ABOUT HER LIFE? THE WORLD WOLD SPLIT OPEN.

— Muriel Rukeyser

Why do we write? There are as many reasons as there are writers. At the Intuitive Writing Project, we write to connect, to think more clearly and feel more deeply, to understand who we are and what we need and value and how we want to lead, to heal our own hearts and find our own answers. This is writing as medicine—and as rocket fuel!

As humans, we communicate through stories. The author Jonathan Gottschall calls us “the storytelling animal,” hard-wired to see the world through a narrative lens. In the words of author and AWA* founder, Pat Schneider, whenever we talk with each other, we are “writing stories on the air.”

After decades of research, the psychologist Dr. James Pennebaker has found conclusive evidence that writing is the most healing, integrative form of self-expression. The very action of telling stories unifies both sides of the brain, creating a direct link between intellect and emotion, mind and body. He observed that the human mind remains “anxious and unsettled… until it has located the narrative… translating experiences into language.”

According to recent research, expressive writing also provides many emotional and physical health benefits. For example, the neuroscientist Alex Korb notes one fMRI study—appropriately titled “Putting Feelings into Words”—in which the simple process of naming an emotion created “an immediate sense of well-being.” As in the fairy tale, just naming “Rumpelstiltskin” can set you free!

Writing is good for the heart. But we believe it’s especially important for women, whose voices have been largely erased from the history books. We all know the Brothers Grimm, but not the generations of women who first invented our fairy tales. Even some of our most talented women writers have had to use male-pseudonyms. (“George Eliot” was Mary Ann Evans, “Currer Bell” was Charlotte Bronte, “Isak Dinesen” was Karen Blixen, and the world’s most successful female author felt safer using just her initials:  J.K. Rowling.) As the great screenwriter and writing teacher Robert McKee once remarked, “If there’s anything the world needs in terms of storytelling, it’s women!”

At the Intuitive Writing Project, we believe the world particularly needs the wisdom and passion of young women.

The world we live in is shaped by the stories that are written. Through the process of telling our story, we learn the value and power of our own perspective, giving voice to what was hidden and galvanizing social change.

Our hope is that girls fall in love with writing and keep writing, keeping finding the catharsis, clarity and wisdom they need to live happier, more authentic lives. As we often remind our girls:  where there is honesty, there is always eloquence.

ABOUT OUR WRITING METHOD:

The Intuitive Writing Project is a unique writing program in that we are process-oriented, focused on writing as means to self-knowledge and personal growth. The foundation of our program, The Amherst Writing Method*, is inherently intuitive and supportive, empowering all of us—especially girls—to speak from the heart. At the same time, the more girls write and enjoy writing, the more their technical skills improve, as well. Although this form of writing can have therapeutic benefits, it is not therapy. If you are a therapist wanting to recommend a teenage client, please contact elizabeth@intuitivewritingproject.org to make sure we’re a good fit. The role of an AWA facilitator is simply to create a safe, quiet space for writing, reflecting back the wisdom and strength of each participant. To learn more about the Amherst Writing Method, visit them at www.amherstwriters.com.

Additional resources:

https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/writing-about-emotions-may-ease-stress-and-trauma

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/ulterior-motives/200910/trauma-and-the-benefits-writing-about-it

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/12/the-origins-of-storytelling/547502/

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©The Intuitive Writing Project

San Francisco Bay Area