By Elizabeth Scott, M.S., Stress Management Guide
Get In The "Write" Frame Of Mind
Monday November 1, 2010
National Lifewriting Month: The idea behind 'lifewriting' is to "turn memories into memoirs". This can be cathartic and rewarding at the same time, and can leave you with something beautiful to share with loved ones this holiday season (when money is tight, meaningful gifts like this are cherished even more). To learn more about how to make a memoir this month, see this article on lifewriting.November is upon us, and there's a lot to write hom about! It's a month full of opportunities to get your words out there: November is National LifeWriting Month, National Family Stories Month, and National Novel Writing Month, all at the same time! And there are some ways that you can celebrate these observances in a way that relieves stress. First, let's talk about the observances themselves:
National Family Stories Month: Also called "Family History Month", the idea is to find out more about your family, the history that brought you to this point, and other facts about your lineage. This can create a wonderful opportunity to connect with relatives you may not always talk to because you lead a busy life, and can lead to interesting discussions about family as well as history in general.
National Novel Writing Month: National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo (NaNo, for short) presents a fun challenge: write a novel ---50 thousand words of fiction -- from start to finish, in the month of November. Tens of thousands of people successfully reach this goal every year, with well over 100,000 attempting it, and writing more than they likely would have otherwise. This can be a great way to spend November because it flexes your creative muscles, provides an outlet for fun, can connect you to others who share your goal (gotta love social support!), and can show you that you're capable of more than you may realize. If you approach it as a perfectionist, you'll probably make yourself crazy, but it can provide you with an opportunity to practice getting past perfectionism if this is your usual M. O. (You can get more information about NaNo, and support in following that 50,000-word goal, at this website: http://www.nanowrimo.org/ .
Now that we've covered a little about these observances, let's cover the real stress relief benefits you can find in them, especially if you're willing to bend the rules a little.
Gratifications: From positive psychology, we know that gratifications can help you relieve stress and feel great about yourself and your life. Writing can be a major gratification. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, read this article on gratifications, and share your own gratifications in this reader response article on gratifications. Instead of watching television or engaging in other pleasures, why not try this new gratification? It may become your favorite.
Self Reflection: Writing about your family history, your personal history, or the imaginary history of a very real-seeming character can provide you with the opportunity to analyze, reassess, and better understand your life and the people in it, as well as human nature as a whole. It can help you 'sort things out' and process issues in a subtle or obvious way.
Journaling Benefits: There are many benefits to journaling. Some of them can be obtained by memoir-, family history-, or novel-writing, and some come from examining, emoting, and everything else that comes from standard journaling. If you've always wanted to keep a regular journal, but haven't done it so far, now's your chance. You can follow one of the other observances, or you can make it your own personal journaling month. You can choose.
How does writing speak to you? Share in the comments or on Facebook, and have a wonderful November!