Creative Writing in Older AdultsBy Karen L. Whitmore
Creative Writing in Older Adults – by Karen Whitmore
Creativity can express itself in many ways. After reading thousands of books, and filling my brain with words, I have chosen writing as my creative expression. I like to use my words to express my ideas, thoughts, and dreams. Sometimes I write for myself - in my journal, recording the events of the day or clarifying my ideas about a subject. Sometimes I write to understand an issue or a problem, or to complain. Sometimes I daydream about future events. Sometimes I write poetry.
I have learned the value of autobiographical writing (a.k.a. journaling) from the Village's Memoir III group. This group inspired me to write about my mother. As I prepared to do so, I embarked on a search for information. My search led me to the discovery of letters and pictures, and prompted me to visit family members. As a result, I discovered in my mother a woman who was different from the one I knew as a child.
Writing autobiographically has also helped me to recognize my unique place in my family. I am sharing this history with my children and plan to leave a legacy for my grandchildren and others who come after me. Writing refreshes my recollection of forgotten things and helps me see my life in a different light.
Writing also helped me clarify my choice to move to South Pasadena from my lifelong home in Washington State. I spent many days writing to define where I wanted to live and what features I wanted in a dwelling.
Creative writing can take many forms. You can create a fictional story from your imagination. You can let your mind travel to exotic places to provide a background for your story. You can then populate the story with interesting characters based on people you have known.
To write poetry, I try to use the first hour of the day, when the world is quiet, and the images of dreams haven’t quite escaped. If you can’t draw and you can’t dance, or if you are housebound, perhaps writing a poem would satisfy your creative urges. Poems can be long or short, personal, or descriptive, rhyming or not.
In addition to providing a creative outlet, studies in the academic community (e.g., The University of Texas at Austin and the Journal of the American Society of Aging) have shown that writing may actually enhance your immune system.
Our later years provide us with the time to take a renewed interest in life. Time to get reacquainted with ourselves, time to learn new activities, to make music, to paint pictures, to write, to create poems. To meet and communicate with friends and make plans for the future. If you can’t draw and you can’t dance, or maybe you are housebound, perhaps writing a poem would satisfy your creative urges, and possibly enhance your immune system as well.