There is increasing interest in connections between writing and wellbeing, but a perceived tension between writing well and writing to improve health. This paper gives a brief outline of some dominant literary thinking in this area, explores views of this orthodoxy among two groups of writers, examines the writing process and evidence of how it affects wellbeing, and goes on to relate how such evidence relates to recent psychological/clinical findings. Eighty-four per cent of those interviewed testified to therapeutic effects, but tensions existed around quality and catharsis. Bucci's multiple code account of the referential cycle is related to the creative writing process, and the paper concludes there are indications that the process of writing well is linked to the benefits for wellbeing. It therefore suggests that the importance of literary quality, and the re-writing process involved, as well as the value of disclosure, needs to be examined further as writing is increasingly used therapeutically.
- literary theory
- poetry therapy
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Mark Robinson is Head of Film, Media and Literature at the Northern Arts Board, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, working in partnership with the Centre for Arts and Humanities in Health Medicine, University of Durham.