Here are ten good reasons you might be interested in joining a narrative medicine writing group:
1. You are a health care provider or a therapist in any field. You have been a patient at some point in your life, or you know someone who is. Trust me: you have plenty to write about.
“Anybody who has survived his childhood
has enough information about life
to last him the rest of his days.”
2. People keep telling you, “You really should write a book…” because of all you have endured and overcome, or because of your special expertise, or exceptional courage, or unique perspective.
3. You keep telling yourself, “But I’m not a writer,” even though there’s a story chiseling a hole in your heart…something that caused such sorrow, or anger, or despair you can’t bear to revisit it, or such relief, or gratitude, or inspiration you can’t imagine how you would put it into words.
“There is no greater agony
than bearing an untold story
inside of you.”
4. You keep telling yourself, “I wouldn’t know where to begin,” even though you’ve been over the details in your mind a thousand times.
5. You keep telling yourself, “My life (or work or experience…) is so ordinary, I have nothing interesting to say, nothing new to add, nothing helpful to share.”
“Write what disturbs you, what you fear,
what you have not been willing to speak about.
Be willing to be split open.”
6. You like to write, but convince yourself you’re not good enough at spelling, grammar, or punctuation to share what you have written.
“If you hear a voice within you saying:
you are not a painter,
then paint by all means, lad,
and that voice will be silenced…”
The same can be said for writing.
7. You think you’re too busy. (You’re not.)
8. You’re afraid you’ll offend someone if you write the truth…the surgeon who botched your operation, or your uncle who abused you as a child, or the colleague you don’t trust.
“All you have to do
is write one true sentence.
Write the truest sentence you know.”
9. As a patient, you sometimes feel like giving up. If you’re a provider, you sometimes feel like quitting.
10. You harbor questions you can’t answer…doubts that won’t go away…pain that nothing can heal.
“While medicine creates material for writing,
perhaps even more important is that
it also creates a psychological and emotional
need to write.”
If you’re still not sure writing is for you, I’d like to recommend a couple of good books for beginning writers, especially those who are reluctant to get started:
· The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
· If you Want to Write by Brenda Ueland
· Writing from the Heart by Nancy Aronie
If you’re interested but can’t find a narrative medicine writing group near you…think about starting one.