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‘Writing is the best way I know to make sense of how I’m feeling’

Clare Mackintosh

Whether practiced as a hobby, a pastime or as a profession, there is something about creative writing which has the potential to impart remarkable wellbeing benefits. The theory partly goes that expressive writing is a way of turning the imagination into something tangible, forging a foundation on which self-confidence and self-belief can then be anchored.

It’s no surprise then, that as a daily discipline, engaging with writing has been widely associated with a variety of health gains. They call this stress-buffering and confidence-boosting phenomenon ‘writing therapy’ - although the underlying psycho-biological basis is more complex than this title implies. It is believed that the process of writing is responsible for a kind of ‘cognitive restructuring’ which is known as Pennebaker’s Paradigm. It’s this that explains why regular writers are better able to communicate highly complex ideas, as well as benefitting from a greater sense of relaxation, calm and catharsis. We asked Authors Cressida McLaughlin, Claire Mackintosh and Heidi Swain for insight into what inspired them to write, and the health gains they’ve gleaned from this career:

Cressida McLaughlin ‘I’ve always been a huge reader and story lover, and I got to the point in my life where I wanted to create my own - where I wanted to make other people feel all the things my favourite books made me feel. There is something magical about starting with a blank page and creating a whole world: settings people want to visit, characters that readers fall in love with, are enraged or inspired by, and stories they remember and, sometimes, treasure. It’s the best job in the world!’ Claire Mackintosh “Writing is the best way I know to make sense of how I’m feeling — I can’t imagine a world in which I didn’t write” Heidi Swain ‘Writing is an integral part of my life. I simply can't imagine not doing it. If I'm not immersed in a work in progress, I'm plotting and planning the next one. And sometimes the one after that!’

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