Writing to Heal

Why Write?

Therapeutic writing is a form of self expression that has been shown to help people feel better, reduce stress levels, and cope with anxiety, depression, and feelings of overwhelm.

Our writing group of Portland cancer survivors gathers weekly to write, share and reflect on our stories and to continue our healing.

If you’d like to try some of our exercises, we encourage you to work through some of our writing prompts. Note, we use timed writings to help us focus, get in flow, and write without judgement or self editing. It can even help to set a timer for 8 minutes, or 10 or 12 minutes and see what happens. We then share our writing with each other. If you don’t have a group, we recommend you read it aloud to someone you respect.

Being heard without judgment or comment is its own form of healing. And if you’d like to share your work with us, we’d love to host it here on our site. Just send it to info@portlandcancerjourneys.com.

Try your hand with some of the writing prompts below.

If you’d like to try a workshop or have more guidance, check out one of the writing workshops offered at Portland Women Writers. They do charge a fee for these workshops.

Free writing groups are available through OHSU’s cancer survivor program. Click here and scroll to the bottom of the page and click on Cancer Support Classes to see the schedule.

The Institute of Poetic Medicine offers tools and support to people to heal body, mind, and spirit through the creative and therapeutic process of hearing, speaking and writing poetry.

Ideas for writing prompts

Writing prompts help get the creative juices flowing and provide an angle for your brain to play with so you can free up your creativity. Get inspired with describing scenes, writing about memories or experiences, or use sentences or concepts from writers you admire to get you started. If you steel feel stuck, use one of these resources for more ideas.


Creative Writing Prompts

Writing Prompts that Don’t Suck


I was recently reading a New York Times article on The 36 Questions That Lead to Love, by Daniel Jones. As I read through them I thought that each one would be a wonderful writing prompt and a way for writers to explore themselves. See if they give you any ideas!


Another great inspiration for writing comes from looking at photos and imagining stories to go with them. The National Geographic photography website is a great place to start. Other ideas are going to thrift shops and finding antique photos, or searching Bing Images for words that stir your imagination. See what turns up and then start writing.