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"Writing has helped me heal." "Writing has changed my life." "Writing has saved my life."

These are the bold and intriguing first sentences of acclaimed author, Louise DeSalvo's book, Writing as a Way of Healing: How Telling our Stories Transforms our Lives.

Louise DeSalvo
Photo Courtesy of Deja Vue

With insight and wit, Ms. DeSalvo, interweaves her own story about the transformative power of writing with the experiences and observations of other writers, researchers and students. She also includes many practical suggestions and techniques that will benefit all of us who are writing as a way to heal our emotional and physical wounds.

Ms. DeSalvo and her publisher, Beacon Press, have generously offered to share excerpts from Writing as a Way of Healing with the readers of the Survivor's Review.


From the first page of her book, DeSalvo engages us with anecdotes, research studies and experiences that illustrate and support her points about the importance of writing to heal. And at the end of each chapter, she offers specific suggestions under the sections titled, WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW. Below is an excerpt from the first list:


Although it seems intuitive that the healing benefits of writing depend upon the depths to which we plumb, DeSalvo clearly articulates several specific qualities that make a narrative truly healing:


DeSalvo asserts that committing to the practice of writing is, in itself, transformative. In a section entitled, "The Yoga of Writing," she outlines the process by which committed writers work. Below are several of her compelling points:

"We make time to write. We plan to write. We prepare ourselves to write. We care for ourselves so that we can write. We prepare a place to write...We listen to an inner voice that tells us what to do, what to write, where to go with the work...We allow ourselves complex and difficult feelings about our writing, but we don't question why we're having them...We work to work, not to produce a work of genius...When we're finished, we reflect on our process. We reflect upon how we're feeling now, upon what this work has given us, upon how this work has changed us..."

"When we begin to write regularly, letting the process be our guide, everything will take care of itself. Show up at the desk regularly and with commitment," De Salvo contends, "That's really all you have to do."

Louise DeSalvo is a writer, professor, lecturer, and scholar who lives in New Jersey . She currently holds the Jenny Hunter Endowed Chair in CreativeWriting and Literature at Hunter College of CUNY. Her many books include the memoirs Vertigo, Breathless, and Adultery; the acclaimed biography, Virginia Woolf: The Impact of Childhood Sexual Abuse on her Life and Work; and Writing as a Way of Healing. Recently, she edited Woolf's early novel, Melymbrosia and coedited The Milk of Almonds: Italian American Women Writers on Food and Culture.

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