In moments of grief or loss, we often turn to the written word to say what cannot be said aloud. Indeed, directing sadness, rage, or confusion at the page can be tremendously cathartic and liberating. As we express our deepest feelings without reserve in poetry or prose, we feel the power of our words begin to draw out some of the pain in our hearts and replace it with hope.But fears about writing honestly and self-criticism can stand in the way of making use of this powerful therapeutic tool. With Pen in Hand ...
In moments of grief or loss, we often turn to the written word to say what cannot be said aloud. Indeed, directing sadness, rage, or confusion at the page can be tremendously cathartic and liberating. As we express our deepest feelings without reserve in poetry or prose, we feel the power of our words begin to draw out some of the pain in our hearts and replace it with hope.But fears about writing honestly and self-criticism can stand in the way of making use of this powerful therapeutic tool. With Pen in Hand is an inspirational and practical guide to breaking through these roadblocks and to helping one "write to heal." Outlining writing techniques that are best for working through pain and for privately collecting raw emotions--"Writing a Letter of Goodbye," "Interviewing Your Body," "Rapid-Writing," and more--Henriette Klauser shares stories and tips that will help readers gain comfort from what they commit to paper. For the accomplished writer and non-writer alike, With Pen in Hand will help one make use of the kind of expression that in the aftermath of a crisis or loss, can make one whole again.
In her introduction, Klauser, best-selling author of Writing on Both Sides of the Brain, explains that her experiences giving workshops and the letters that she receives are the genesis of her latest book. The fundamental premise of her work is a belief in the "power of the written word to soothe our souls and ease the anguish." Klauser does not provide much scientific validation for her premise. She refers to the work of James Pennebaker of the University of Texas who did some research on people who had lost their jobs. He concluded that those who wrote about their experiences recovered emotionally more quickly and found new jobs more quickly than those who did not write. Writing about emotional topics in general was found by Pennebaker to result in "an increase in germ-fighting lymphocytes" and a decrease in anxiety, stress levels, and depression. The majority of the chapters involve the stories of individuals who, faced with traumatic events in their lives, turned to writing a journal and found some measure of consolation in the process. Among the individuals: a woman dealing with divorce, a woman whose child died, a priest who decides to leave the priesthood, a rape victim, a victim of domestic abuse, someone dealing with the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorism, and a Vietnam veteran. Most of the chapters give extensive excerpts from the journal writings of such individuals. At the end of the chapter, Klauser includes a short section called "Apply This" in which she suggests a way for the reader to use a similar approach in writing about the problems of their own lives as was used by the person who was the focus in that particular chapter. Such approaches include stream of consciousnessand writing with the unschooled hand (i.e., using the left hand if right-handed). Klauser's book is billed as "inspirational and practical." I found the stories compelling. They could well serve as inspiration for someone seeking solace through writing about an experience and their feelings as they deal with the aftermath of that experience. However, other than learning from examples, this book offers little practical instruction or advice. This book would be most helpful to those interested in the writing process or in psychology. KLIATT Codes: A—Recommended for advanced students and adults. 2003, Perseus, 262p. bibliog., Pucci
The best-selling author of many practical books on writing, Henriette Anne Klauser, Ph.D., has been featured in Redbook, O! The Oprah Magazine, Good Housekeeping, Glamour, and New Age Journal, and has been interviewed by USA Today, the London Times, and the Washington Post. She lives in Edmonds, Washington.