Establishing a Relationship

In The Psychology of Creative Writing, a broad collection of essays about the creative process of writing, Adele Kohanyi addresses a suggested link between creative writers and mood disorders in her essay titled “The more I write, the better I write, and the better I feel about myself”: Mood Variability and Mood Regulation in Student Journalists and Creative Writers. Adele Kohanyi is a Professor of Psychology at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Surrey, BC. Canada. Due to the large number of undiagnosed individuals with mood disorders, as well as the extremes of mood variability, it is difficult to pinpoint if a true relationship exists. However, Kohanyi presents several studies that suggest there is in fact a relationship between writing and mood on a continuum.

Effects of Mood on Creativity

Creative problem solving and is often affected by mood, though whether a positive or negative mood produces better results is still up for discussion. A positive mood has been shown to produce a higher quantity of creative solutions while a negative mood may result in higher quality or more conceptual thinking. This model does not apply to every situation and mood is often unrelated to quality and quality, as researchers found when examining the work of composer Roman Schumann during various periods of productivity.

Effects of Writing on Mood

In an analysis of 150 randomized studies, the short answer is yes. “Participants demonstrated physical and mental
improvements on both objective and subjective (self-report-based) markers.” However, it is noted that participants writing about non-emotional or neutral topics were unaffected and therefore all writing cannot be considered beneficial. Only individuals that were able to write coherently about emotional topics experience positive mood changes. As Kohanyi points out, there is psychology behind these observations. Disclosing trauma seems to provide therapeutic effects as opposed to repressing emotions. Often, perspective is gained and emotions more manageable when transferred to paper. It is also worth noting that individuals that benefited the most from the studies were those that wrote for a longer duration and more intensely.