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Creative Writing and Mental Health

Jersey City Writers prides itself on creating a space for all kinds of writers. We approach all writers with an equal level of commitment and enthusiasm.

Our philosophy is rooted in our recognition of the beneficial role that creative writing can play in anyone’s life. There have been numerous studies about the benefits of creative writing on one’s psyche and emotional development. Psychology and science journals have heaps of statistics on how creative writing helps with everything from overcoming depression to improving math skills. 

A writer doesn’t need to be told this. There are important aspects of being human that every writer knows are also key to being a good writer: understanding other people, learning to love others despite their flaws, comprehending cause and effect, honing in on significant details in a sea of information, and, above all else, clearly communicating one’s goals and intentions. 

We know that pouring your soul into a poem or story can improve your well-being. But does workshopping and revising pieces have a similar positive effect? There are a lot fewer studies out there on the health benefits of revision!

To find the answer to that, first we need to understand exactly what happens when a writer shares something they’ve written for critique. It all starts with trust. A writer chooses to trust an audience with something that came from the deepest parts of their mind. Any writer who has shared their work knows this isn’t easy. Many JCW workshoppers express their nervousness when they share a piece amongst the group.

The next step is just as hard: accepting imperfection. When a writer shares their work, they must be prepared to hear about its flaws: the things that aren’t ringing true for the reader, and the things that need to be improved. 

Ideally, workshops end in a plan. Workshoppers take the array of feedback they have received and turn it into a list of concrete steps to improve their work — to make it more believable, enjoyable, exciting, enlightening, or just fun. 

It’s true that building characters in a story can help people boost their empathy and emotional intelligence. And it’s true that constructing a realistic plot can help people learn cause and effect, and skills for real-life problem solving. So, could it also be true that breaking down and understanding flaws in your writing can help you to break down and understand flaws in your thinking?

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Jersey City Writers  is a (JCW) 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in Hudson County, NJ

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