Friday Speak Out!: Writing Each Day Keeps The Doctor Away, Guest Post by Kirsten Cliff

Friday, April 22, 2011
Writing Each Day Keeps The Doctor Away

by Kirsten Cliff

I didn’t discover my love of creative writing until I became too ill to work full time. My passion developed when I wrote a cathartic article about my chronic illness for a competition that I subsequently won.

I have always loved reading, apart from when textbooks bogged me down at university, but hadn’t thought about writing creatively myself. My experience included writing scholarly essays, recording meeting minutes, keeping a journal, and penning random poems as a teenager. I’d never noticed before, the instant gratification writing brought me.

Writing is how I experience and process the world, it allows me to stay connected to my spirit, and I soon realised its health benefits. It’s a bonus if someone else likes a piece I’ve written too, wants to publish it and, most exciting of all, wants to pay me for it. But the writing, the creating, the outpouring is the main event for me.

Being focused on an activity that brings me true joy helps me to forget my physical pain, if only briefly. Writing helps me to live in the moment; distracting me from the stress and isolation of chronic illness. Practising this craft helps me feel I have achieved something worthwhile and is a way of contributing to society. It has facilitated my involvement in the community through local writing and poetry groups, a social and inspiring avenue, which has been vital to my well-being.

I also do other arts and crafts projects, like photography and collage work, but I find writing is the best creative outlet for me. It’s inexpensive and I can do it anywhere. I found myself at the beach recently with a pen on my key ring but no paper. I ended up writing a few short notes on my used popsicle stick.

And being creative in this way doesn’t tax me as other crafts do. If I get tired typing or looking at a computer screen, I can write by hand; if too fatigued or in pain for that, I record my thoughts on tape.

Research shows that a 15-minute daily writing practice alleviates stress and boosts the functioning of the immune system. Of course, for some of us, writing itself can cause us stress.

But why not have a go yourself? Journaling is a great way to start. Try writing down all the thoughts swimming around in your head that stop you from getting to sleep at night.

You may thank me in the morning.

* * *

Kirsten Cliff currently spends her days creating a collection of haiga (haiku poems with images) to help her mentally and spiritually process her recent journey through leukaemia. Her haiku have been published in journals and anthologies, and placed in competitions, in both New Zealand and overseas. Kirsten lives with her fiancé (also a writer and poet) in a house dedicated to writing, “Wordsmith House”, in Papamoa, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand. Kirsten 'blogs' at or you can visit her website at .


Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!



Sioux Roslawski said...

A "house dedicated to writing." It sounds like heaven!

Kirsten Cliff said...

Thanks, Sioux. Yes, we love it!

Jo Bryant said...

I really enjoyed this Kirsten - it spoke to me on so many levels.

Kirsten Cliff said...

Glad to hear it! Thanks, Jo :)

Karen Fisher-Alaniz said...

Thank you for sharing! I've had some similar challenges. Women are so much stronger than most realize.

Kirsten Cliff said...

Yes! Thanks, Karen :)

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