Writing to Heal

Why do I Write?       

Because happiness is complicated. 

Advice about achieving well-being is all around us – from tidying up our closets to eliminating processed foods from our diet. But for some of us, a commitment to practicing happiness may not be enough, if deep down we don’t believe happiness is possible. 

Our beliefs are steeped in the stories we have lived, heard and told, and if we want to change our beliefs about happiness, then perhaps we can begin by transforming the stories we live by. 

“Everyone thinks that they want happiness, but they might not. They  might rather keep their stories about who they are and about what is impossible. Happiness is not an add-on to what you already are; it requires you to become a different person from the one who set off seeking it.”

John Tarrant, Bring Me the Rhinoceros, and other zen koans that will save your life

Creative writing can help us to transform the stories we tell ourselves about what is possible, and research demonstrates that writing can help us to feel better.

Dr. James Pennebaker, a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Texas, is a pioneer in the study of the health benefits of expressive writing. His findings indicate that writing can improve emotional and physical well-being.

For more about writing to feel better:




Writing Memoir, Truth or Fact

Memoir is our experience of what happened.

It offers ways to discover and organize meaning, to understand, and reconcile –even recover from – something or someone in our past. 

Because memory is subjective, it can be tenuous, conditional, and error-prone. There will be events and conversations that we only vaguely recollect. This can require that we synthesize a coherent narrative from what we know and what we believe to be true.

As imperfect as memory is, we must commit to writing with the intent to discover and reveal the deeper truth, not to hide or change it. 

“Tell the truth, or someone will tell it for you.” ― Stephanie Klein


  Writing Prompt: Write about an incident in your past. Then write about that incident from the perspective of another person involved.

Thanksgiving Camper

Not everyone loves the holidays, or Disney World, or campers.



In 300 words or less, write the story of a family’s resolve to make the trip to Disney World for Thanksgiving in a VW camper.

Begin with: “We don’t need cell phones or tablets to have a good time together. Somehow we all muddled through before the internet. You’re going to thank me.”volkswagen-899046_1920

“Can books save the planet?” article in The Atlantic

Great article by J.K. Ullrich about cli-fi momentum!

J.K. Ullrich

If you’re interested in literature, STEM education, environmentalism, or just want to look at a picture of Jon Snow from “Game of Thrones” (yes, some culture critics argue the presence of cli-fi themes in George R.R. Martin’s fantasy series) check out the article I just wrote for The Atlantic about the growing popularity of cli-fi and its expansion into college classrooms. Special thanks to the people interviewed, who were kind enough to share their thoughtful commentary on the topic!

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Saving the World One Word at a Time – Writing Cli-Fi

clifi coverAvailable on Amazon

Discover how writing fiction can make the world a better place. This book offers instruction, inspiration and prompts for writing cli-fi; speculative fiction that focuses primarily on the ways that climate change is transforming our world. Explore how plot, place and character development can make climate change personal. By anticipating and elaborating on the future implications of climate change, writers of cli-fi use knowledge of science and climate to imagine and create apocalyptic or dystopian worlds with the goal of changing how humans think about, inhabit and interact with our planet. Place your writing at the forefront of efforts to reimagine the message and the messengers of climate change, taking the issue out of politics and into the realm of the personal.

Recent Reads: Saving the World One Word at a Time: Writing Cli-Fi

J.K. Ullrich

I received a promotional copy of this book from Ellen Szabo in exchange for my honest review: thanks, Ellen!

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 5.35.23 PMIn the preface to this book, author Ellen Szabo writes “I wish someone had told me when I was young that separation of the `hard sciences’ and `creative arts’ was a false duality”. I can certainly relate! As a cli-fi author myself, I know the two disciplines can be powerful allies. I’m glad Szabo’s book will help make this emergent genre more approachable for aspiring writers. “Saving the World One Word at a Time: Writing Cli-Fi” is a useful workbook for writers who want to explore the cli-fi genre, but need a little nudge to get started. Szabo discusses cli-fi as a form of social activism and highlights ways to bring environmental speculation to life. Some of the techniques she includes are ones I used myself in Blue Karma

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