Narratives of Writing as Healing

Narratives of Writing as Healing

Jennifer Lynne Bird (Oxbridge Academy, USA) and Eric T. Wanner (Palm Beach Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Center, USA)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 44
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1931-8.ch010
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This narrative provides an introduction to the concept of multigenre writing and explains methods of multigenre writing used in the field of medicine to create the concept of multigenre medicine. The authors use the theory of narrative inquiry and the practice of multigenre writing to explain the implications of using writing to assist in healing from physical pain. The collaborative qualitative research project illustrates how writing can lead teachers to a stronger self-awareness of what patients need both physically and emotionally to heal.
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Part I: Introduction To Writing As Healing (2012)

My name is Jen, and I live in a multigenre world. My education students at Florida Atlantic University love pointing to page 177 in Tom Romano’s Crafting Authentic Voice and finding an example of their professor’s writing. They love hearing the story that Tom Romano taught my teaching methods class at Miami University, the place where I first learned the amazing multigenre ideas I now share with them in my own teaching methods class.

During the past few years, my life settled into a predictable and comfortable pattern. Each semester my students read wonderful works of literature and created poems, scenes from characters’ perspectives, mix CDs, artwork and various other innovative projects based on those wonderful works of literature. They wrote detailed rationales explaining their project choices and shared their masterpieces with classmates on presentation day. This was a day where I always skipped meals because several people in the class usually brought food for a genre connected to the text. My life and teaching progressed in a splendid manner until another twist of fate in my life led me to see multigenre writing as more than an academic research project. Multigenre writing became a way for me to help heal my physical pain. This is a story of using writing as healing told from the perspectives of both the patient and the physical therapist; the lessons learned from this experience led to additional research and advice to help others.

Background of Multigenre Writing

This chapter is an example of multigenre writing. Multigenre writing enables writers to see life from different perspectives. Romano (2000) defines the concept and explains, “a multigenre paper is composed of many genres and subgenres, each piece self-contained, making a point of its own, yet connected by theme or topic and sometimes by language, images, and content” (pp. x-xi). In the following pages you will read a first person narrative told from two perspectives and view artifacts such as a neck pain journal and a list of strategies of how you can apply life lessons from the narrative you read to your own life. You will also see everything tied together using the narrative thread of writing as healing. That’s multigenre writing.

When asking my students to complete a multigenre research project, I want them to illustrate their knowledge of a topic using a variety of pieces. They design numerous creative projects, such as poems from the perspective of a character and artwork representing a scene, which demonstrate both their creativity and their comprehension of the text. Romano (1995) elaborates, “each genre offers me ways of seeing and understanding that others do not. I perceive the world through multiple genres. They shape my seeing. They define who I am” (p. 109). I love multigenre papers because I can see a text from multiple perspectives.

Multigenre projects provide for innovation typically not seen in traditional research projects while simultaneously retaining the analysis required of research. Romano (2008) continues, “a multigenre paper arises from research, experience, and imagination” (p. 184). I enjoy seeing my students’ unique writing voices shine through in their writing. I learn more about each student’s perspective and opinions when reading their multigenre projects than if I asked them to write a book report with no sense of voice. I also find it fun to complete my own multigenre research projects because they represent both the artistic and technical of writing. Multigenre papers provide the author with an opportunity for creativity while retaining the academic rigor associated with traditional research papers. In addition to providing multiple perspectives on a text such as a work of literature, I learned multigenre writing can provide additional insight into life experiences.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Physical Therapy Interview: The initial intake session where a physical therapist asks patients questions and learns about the patient’s story.

Writing Voice: Voice in writing describes how a writer uses word choice and tone when writing a journal entry or other composition that reflects the personality of the writer. Just like each person has a unique speaking voice, each writer has a unique writing voice.

Neck Pain Journal: Jen created a journal of how her neck was feeling and what she was doing when her neck felt pain. Eric read the journal and diagnosed what Jen needed to do to make her neck feel better.

Thinking Like a Turtle: This philosophy means taking on one task at a time, which can lead to less stress.

Integrative Health Coach: Health coaches have a variety of educational backgrounds but participate in specialized training to help patients design personalized health plans. Health coaches help patients clarify their vision and values. They also work with medical professionals to assist patients in comprehending the treatment plan while setting goals to achieve optimal health.

Wanner-Bird Healing Survey for Pain Recovery: An original survey designed by Dr. Eric Wanner and Dr. Jennifer Bird. This survey features a combination of numerical subjective questions, where patients are asked to respond to statements by circling a number from 1-5, and written subjective questions that evaluates patients on a rubric with a score of 1, 3, or 5 to incorporate the technical and artistic dimensions of writing. The survey questions can also be used for health coaching.

Multigenre Healing Project: Jen and Eric designed a multigenre project where Jen wrote about her neck pain and Eric provided the end notes analysis. This is a different perspective on multigenre projects that connects the field of education and medicine and can lead to greater patient awareness about health.

Multigenre Writing: Originally made popular in the field of education by Tom Romano, a multigenre paper consists of two parts: creative writing in multiple genres and the writer’s analysis of the genres. The original version of multigenre papers can also be used in classrooms for students of all ages.

Integrative Medicine: A holistic approach to medicine that treats the person, not the disease. Patients and doctors form a partnership to treat the patient’s mind, body, and spirit.

Multigenre Medicine: Connecting multigenre writing to the field of medicine.

Migraines: A type of painful headache. Migraines have a variety of symptoms and causes. Patients suffering from migraines should consult a medical professional to help with a treatment plan.

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