In this episode I chat with social psychologist James W Pennebaker about his research into expressive writing, and the tiny words we use each day but don’t notice.
We talk about a specific way of writing that can improve your mood, sleep, immune system function and even help your body heal faster. We discuss computer analyses of language, from old diaries to emails to poems, and how a particular category of words that accounts for less than one-tenth of 1 percent of your vocabulary makes up almost 60 percent of the words you use. And we find out how your output of these almost subliminal words can predict everything from status, age and gender to the likelihood the writer will take their own life.
This is a great episode to listen to if you want to know:
– can writing make me feel better, and if so, how?
– what are some different categories of language?
– how is language processed in the brain?
– how can I make my characters’ dialogue more genuine, and representative of their backgrounds?
– what does my writing say about me?
This is a very different show to our usual style, but it’s truly fascinating. I really recommend you check out THE SECRET LIFE OF PRONOUNS, which our discussion only scrapes the surface of. There’s a huge wealth of knowledge in there for writers.
You might also like James W Pennebaker’s OPENING UP BY WRITING IT DOWN, a book about his research into the benefits of expressive writing, which includes exercises to try it out for yourself.
And of course if you haven’t treated yourself to it yet, there really is no better tonic for the troubled heart than my novel, THE HONOURS. Buy it here, with free shipping – it will come to your door, it looks beautiful, and you’ll be helping me out.
Finally, you can always support the podcast directly by dropping a few beans into the upturned guitar case that is my ko-fi page.
Thank you so much, and I hope you find this episode enlightening.