It’s National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo as participants call it), and hundreds of thousands of people are taking their first or twentieth stab at creating a novel. But as those of us who write, either for a living or for fun, know – sometimes it’s hard to get yourself to sit down and put a pen to paper. It’s even difficult to open up that laptop and start typing after spending a day working on a computer. If you just have writer’s block, Chris Baty’s book No Plot? No Problem! has tons of tips on how to slog through. At a loss for a detailed plot map? Even Margaret Atwood will tell you that sometimes you just need to make it up as you go along. If you need even more motivation, it turns out that writing can be good for your health in a few key ways.
If you write the old fashion way, with a pencil and a notebook, you can actually improve your memory and learning skills. The act of writing can help you retain information more effectively. If your book is loosely based around a difficult event you went through, writing about it might speed your emotional and physical healing. People who journaled about their wounds actually physically healed faster than those who didn’t. This benefit extends to people battling cancer. Writing has been shown to help reposition the attitude that patients need to fight the disease. With Thanksgiving around the corner, this next benefit is even more timely. Writing down things you are grateful for can help people feel happier or more optimistic about life. If you’re stuck as to where your characters should go, try marking down one or two “thankful fors” and it might just get the creative juices flowing. Then finally, writing can help you sleep better and longer which can make you more resistant to all those bugs flying around, and it can lower stress levels and blood pressure. As cold and flu season ramps up, even if you can’t do convince yourself to write for creative purposes, do it for your health!