Writing as a Way of Healing (part 2)

Further notes on reading  Writing as a Way of Healing:How Telling Our Stories Transforms Our Lives by Louise DeSalvo

In chapter five of her book “The Healing Power of the Writing Process” DeSalvo writes about how studying Japanese ideas about writing gave her another vision of creativity, different from the ones dominating in the West. By studying Japanese aesthetics, says DeSalvo, I learned that writing could become a normal, natural, and even joyful part of my life – rather than something difficult, esoteric, and painful (as promoted by a canonical theorist like Harold Bloom).

Though one never masters the process (of writing), even in a lifetime of work, the process in itself is simple:

We devote some time regularly (every day) to the process of writing… We write – not to create works of art – but to build character, develop integrity, judgement, balance, order, restraint, and other valued inner attributes.

Through writing, we develop self-mastery, which contributes to our emotional and spiritual growth. Writing, then, becomes the teacher.

It is not what you write or what you produce as you write that is important. It is what happens to you while you are writing that is important. It is who you become while you are writing that is important.

This is an image of what a typical day in DeSlavo’s writing-life might look like:

FullSizeRender Writing as a Way of Healing p. 76


5 thoughts on “Writing as a Way of Healing (part 2)

  1. Knowing this is one writer’s morning makes me feel more normal. Predictability has made for miles of writing and growing clarity. Thank you for sharing this insight today, Sigrun. I will find the book for myself. xoxoxS

    1. Here is DeSalvo:
      “We engage in lifelong learning about the creative work – its stages, its methods, its process. We do this so that our own process is grounded in knowing what we can expect as we work. We understand that though each of us is unique, all writers nonetheless encounter similar difficulties and similar triumphs.”

      “We see ourselves as belonging to a nurturing writing (and artistic) tradition. We respect and learn about the work of our literary and artistic forebears. We know that we not alone in our work, that others who have come before us have much to teach us about this practice.”

      Happy writing!

  2. I’m currently reading her book The Art of Slow Writing, which is geared more for beginning novelists. Which I am not–but the descriptions she offers of how writers (“real” writers, working writers, published writers) get through their days, and their sloughs, and their frustrations are valuable all the same. I’m about to embark on collecting a third manuscript even though my second collection has not yet been picked up by a publisher, but it is time to move ahead & her book offers very practical and comforting words.

    1. I like the idea of belonging, that we as writers belong to a tribe of writers. Somehow I feel this notion adds value to my work. It’s nice to see oneself as a small part of a meaningful whole.

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