We know writing is therapeutic for the writer. (If you don’t, refer back to Write about Memories: It’s Therapeutic! and Ovarian Cancer: Journaling and Healing). But that’s not the full extent of it. Here are a few of the ways that your writing is therapeutic for your readers.
Your Story is Their Story
Very few stories have only one character. Your stories include other people—friends, family, and even a foe or two. When you tell and write those stories, you’re also preserving other people’s stories. Whether they were a bystander or equal participant, your writing is therapeutic for them. You’re helping them preserve their own stories.
Your Story is Their Story’s Prologue
Your memories create a filter through which future events will be viewed. They contribute to your values. And so it was for your parents and grandparents. For example, if your grandparents were deeply religious, there’s a good chance the way they exercised their faith had an impact on the way your parents decided to raise you.
Your story might be another person’s prequel, sequel, or companion story. Sharing your own experiences doesn’t just help them reminisce about their own. They help loved ones establish when and where their story began.
Your Stories Connect Others to Their Own Stories
If I tell you the story of my sister, aged six, carefully evaluating our mother’s hair and advising her that it might be time for “Nice n Easy,” it does more than make you laugh. You might remember a time during which you were on the giving or receiving end of such a critique.
Stories that are evocative of basic human experiences form connections. When we simultaneously trigger an emotion and a memory, our writing is therapeutic for the reader.
Your Writing is Therapeutic because Family History Matters
It goes without saying, yet sometimes needs to be shouted from the rooftops. Family history matters. Bob Brody of The Huffington Post recently made a good case for this in Dear Kids, Here’s Why You and I Are History. Mr. Brody doesn’t just explain why family history matters, but why your history matters to your kids. Your writing is their legacy.
Your Memories Teach
Just this week, I saw this in action. The young clerks at my local hardware store noticed an older man WWII veteran’s hat.The clerks asked what he remembered about the day Pearl Harbor was bombed. “We all heard it on the radio,” he told them. “We didn’t have televisions back then. I heard the news at 5:23 that afternoon.”
No matter what the clerks had read about the attacks on Pearl Harbor, my guess is that they learned a whole lot from a veteran’s first person account.
Your stories open up worlds that your readers might otherwise never know. You can’t get much more educational than that.
Your Memories Make Others Think
Whether they’re thinking about their own experiences, suddenly remembering things they hadn’t thought about in years, or wondering what it would have been like to walk in your shoes, provoking thought is a good thing.
Do a good turn
Share your stories.