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writing to cope with cancer

Posted Aug 26 2012 10:10pm

Writing in a diary or journal has long been used as therapy for a variety of needs, some physical, others, emotional or psychological. If you belong to a support group that meets on a regular basis, chances are you have heard guests speak about the emotional benefits that can accrue when you write about your experiences with cancer. If you like to write, it is probably no surprise that you often feel a sense of catharsis when you write about issues that have been bothering you.

On the other hand, if you have never kept a journal during challenging times, you may not realize how useful it can be to write freely, without regard to rules of grammar or spelling. Having started writing in a diary at the early age of seven, I don’t remember a time in my life that I have not used writing for personal problem solving or therapy. When my mom was suffering from colon cancer after a diagnosis too late for any treatment other than palliative, I would wake up in the middle of the night crying. Only  by writing poetry could I calm down enough to go back to sleep.

Now that I have launched my site for anyone touched by cancer to share their poetry, I am thinking of all of my readers who have not yet experienced the soothing role of writing. Although you can come to CancerPoet.com to share your poetry when you are ready to do so, there are other sites online that you might like to use if you like to write with the keyboard. Although I would encourage you to write first with a pen if that appeals to you, I have two suggestions for online writing that are secure and well used (and loved) by writers of every age and level of interest. Penzu.com is one, and 750words.com is the other. 750words has the added benefit of encouraging serious writers to write 750words every day by joining a monthly challenge; this is not necessary,  however, as you can simply use the site without signing up for the challenge. The beauty of 750words is that is is as no-nonsense as you can get about writing. No frills or formatting, just empty space to start writing fresh every day.

In either case, as opposed to many other online sites, these two sites do not publish to the Internet at all. That is, unlike a site that is set up like a blog that requires you to apply a setting for “sharing” or “private,” these two sites do not ever publish to the Internet. That means you do not have to worry about writing something intended to be private only to find you forgot to apply the privacy setting.

In any case, whether you have written for personal enjoyment in the past or not, maybe this is a good time to try writing about your experiences with cancer. If you decide it is not for you, you can abandon what you have written and close down your account or throw out your new journal, or maybe just put it away for a while in case you change your mind later. On the other hand, you might decide that you enjoy expressing yourself this way and might even venture out to share that writing with others. Whatever you decide, I hope you will let me know what you discover about yourself and your own personal writing project.

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© 2004–2012 Donna Peach. All rights reserved.
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