Ingeneral, writing is good for you, including your mind, body and spirit.>>

Mostof you have probably heard, or read, or figured out for yourself that writing,in general, is good for you. Studieshave shown that creative expression, including writing--especially writingabout your feelings--is an excellent way to fight depression and reduce stressand anxiety. That's why so manytherapists recommend journaling for their patients. Rather than keep negative emotions bottledup, we can release them--harmlessly--through writing.>>

Whoin this room could resist smiling when we watched Kathleen Turner as JoanWilder in Romancing the Stone, weeping as she typed a heart-rending conclusionto one of her romance novels? We all doit. We experience emotions right alongwith our characters, and thus we can create an emotional catharsis when wewrite a happy ending.>>

Catharsisis good. We work through our problemswith our writing. For example, we mightbe drawn to write about romantic conflicts that reflect our own experiences orthose of loved ones, thereby clarifying our feelings about those experiences.>>

Oneform of therapy I read about encourages patients who have suffered a traumaticloss to write down the experience, except change the events so they go the waythey wish they had. In our stories, wemight use an incident from our own past. The heroine represents ourselves, but better. And the heroine might act in ways we wish wehad, attaining a result that we wish we could have attained.>>

WhenI was going through a particularly trying time with my father, I wrote a bookabout a woman going through the same things. Seeing it in black and white helped me to understand my own anger andput it in perspective. Granted, thisbook never sold. But the act of puttingmy feelings into another character was immensely satisfying. Once I got it out of my system I could moveon to other things.>>

Byexploring our own personal themes in our writing, we're able to see issues in adifferent light, empathizing with others we might be in conflict with (past orpresent) and thus enhancing our own mental and emotional (and physical!) well-being.>>

Writingis good not only for purging negative emotions, but for creating positive onesas well. Nothing compares to the exhilaration that comes with typing "theend." Or that happy surge ofadrenaline when a new idea is cooking, and we're working out the plot andthings are falling into place, or that lovely moment when a character suddenlycomes to life and all you're doing is taking dictation. Most of us feel pleasantly tired but deeplysatisfied after a productive writing day. >>

Thevery act of making progress toward the goal of finishing a book is immenselyempowering. And feelings ofempowerment--the opposite of helplessness--are associated with decreasedstress, all of which leads to a healthier body.>>

Tomorrow,we'll look at the connection between writers and insanity (oh boy!).>>