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Education

Writing for Health and History

Writing for Health and History

Photo: Writing of any kind "slows you down so you can pay attention to detail".

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I am a writer. I have always written.  I come from a family of writers. I have sisters who are masters of poetry and prose. My father who is as unlikely a writer as anyone wrote a few poems in his day. I encourage my daughters to write.  Some of our work has been published but most has not; and that does not daunt us in the least.  My dearest friend is a writer of much more renown.

I write bits and pieces for just about every aspect of my life. I write this column. I write for presentations and papers, observations and musings, all part of my academic life. I am a tremendous list maker. I write at the beginning of the day making lists of things to do that day or week, and at the end of the day or even the next morning I check off or add to the list of the week.  I love to make lists of menus for family meals; not just the big ones like Thanksgiving (which is my personal favorite holiday and meal) but for plain old meals my husband and I will have just sitting at the kitchen breakfast bar. And I think those writings are just as important as the academic writing.  Why you may ask?

Well I think that writing does something to your brain that slows you down so you can pay attention to detail in a different way. I don’t have any of the scientific details on this I am only talking from my own personal experience. I also think that writing gives us a record of what we were thinking or feeling at a moment in time and if we go back to that particular written word it can help us through   whatever is going on in this moment. It can advise us and make us laugh when we read old journals: Who was that totally self absorbed narcissistic young woman, certainly not me? And help us understand those around us are just going through a stage: Who is that totally self absorbed narcissistic young person, certainly no one related to me?

Even the mundane record of lists can tell us something about our lives beyond what we ate for dinner or what we have to do today. It can tell us about our financial status, how much free time we had, how far we strayed from our family traditions. It tells us how much time we devoted to things at home and outside the home, how little time we had for ourselves and how significant a role family played in our lives. These are things I think my children might like to know and when I am feeling tired I can see I have good cause.

Take some time to write. You don’t have to publish or even share what you are writing at this moment. But you may find that you enjoy writing and that you are good at it and someone some day may find some help in your words.