Writing is a creative medium that can support well-being. Paper and a pen can provide a safe space in which to express experiences that people may not wish to discuss with others. Writing is also a pathway to empowerment – with prompts and support, people may write their way into hope and resilience.
Key themes of a creative writing project completed with women with cancer were related to safe spaces, the seeking of permission to write, and fear/uncertainty. As with our research on fostering hope and coping with lymphedema, the creation of a safe workshop space was connected to a variety of factors. Safe space is not limited to the physical location of workshops. Rather, safe spaces are also about process. In addition, participants felt that they needed to give themselves permission to write about negative cancer experiences and to take the time from their busy lives to be creative. Finally, writing helped to relieve some of the fear and uncertainty associated with living with a chronic illness.
Pat Schneider, who founded the Amherst Writers and Artists program, said “A writer is someone who writes.” Roanne is trained in the AWA method which is a supportive approach to writing in a safe space. AWA facilitators write alongside participants.