walkitout (walkitout) wrote,
walkitout
walkitout

It isn't the writing, or the expressing: it's the editing and rewriting

Who knew?

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/01/19/writing-your-way-to-happiness/?_r=0

"Students in the intervention group were given information showing that it is common for students to struggle in their freshman year. They watched videos of junior and senior college students who talked about how their own grades had improved as they adjusted to college.

The goal was to prompt these students to edit their own narratives about college. Rather than thinking they weren’t cut out for college, they were encouraged to think that they just needed more time to adjust."

They all wrote -- it was the ones who got the above who had startling improvements that lasted for months to a year.

"Another writing study asked married couples to write about a conflict as a neutral observer."

Again, that's not just expressing.

"Dr. Wilson, whose book “Redirect: Changing the Stories We Live By,” was released in paperback this month, believes that while writing doesn’t solve every problem, it can definitely help people cope. “Writing forces people to reconstrue whatever is troubling them and find new meaning in it,” he said."

But it very clearly isn't the _writing_ that is causing the reconstruing. It's the rest of the intervention, either in the form of the shape of the writing assignment "as a neutral observer", or in information that informs the writing.

"At the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute, life coaches ask clients to identify their goals, then to write about why they haven’t achieved those goals.

Once the clients have written their old stories, they are asked to reflect on them and edit the narratives to come up with a new, more honest assessment."

This isn't about writing. This is about using writing as a way to help people create reality-based perspectives and plan. I wish this wasn't summarized as "writing", because I know a bunch of people who do un-directed expressive writing, and I have never seen that provide clear, directional assistance in their lives.
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