Renewing Your Writer’s Mind

Over the past few years, I’ve been reading about the amazing plasticity of the brain. Scientists have proven that many things we were taught in the past simply aren’t true.

Our brains aren’t “set” in childhood by trauma with no hope of change. Brain cells that are damaged don’t have to be permanently damaged. People with learning disabilities can do more than learn to “cope with it.” Recovery–even from strokes and brain accidents–is possible. And many studies have shown that a whopping 75-98% of our physical illnesses (which are real and life-threatening) can be traced back to our thought life. [It doesn't mean bad thoughts created your illness. But toxic thoughts may have caused you to eat to numb emotional pain, which can cause obesity-related disease, etc. It's not a simple "mind over matter" thing.]

Change Your Mind and Change Your Brain

This neuroplasticity–the brain’s plastic ability to change–has become an accepted truth in the past few years. But I wonder how many people even know about it? How many simply accept the sad state of affairs in their lives and their health? How many writers struggle with problems that could be eliminated, once and for all?

While this applies to every area of your life, I’ve been exploring brain plasticity with my writer’s brain in mind. I want to pass along some links to videos [see below] by the author of Switch on Your Brain so you can see for yourself. The author, Caroline Leaf, is a brain scientist and also a counselor who has worked with victims of brain injuries, children with learning disabilities, people who have had strokes, etc. She is also a Christian, and she shows how the scientific research supports biblical instructions on how to renew the mind. [And I am willing to try her method because it is so much like the method used when I was treated for PTSD twenty years ago--which was extremely helpful. I'm only on Day 5 though, but I plan to go the whole 21 days.]

Whether you are a Christian or not, her material is fascinating and can change the way you think. Her book teaches a 21-Day Detox method to help clear out the toxic thinking that is damaging you, then help you replace those thoughts with truth that can heal and help your brain function in the creative way it was intended. [NOTE: Don't bother starting if you won't do the whole 21 days. Dr. Leaf is quite open about the fact that it won't work--or work for long--if you quit early. Her video clips below explain why.]


This might be a good place to also announce that I will be doing another Highlights workshop (with Paula Morrow) called “Sharing Our Hope: Writing for the Christian and Inspirational Markets” on March 27-30. See photos of last year’s Highlights workshop here. If this interests you, inquire about their scholarships when you apply.

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6 Responses to Renewing Your Writer’s Mind

  1. Vijaya says:

    Mind over matter … there is so much truth to this. I read her books but thought they were incomplete. They didn’t resonate with my understanding of pain and suffering. Some of it is clearly due to our own sin and toxic thoughts. But there is so much we do not understand about the why of pain/suffering. We are a culture that seems to think there ought to be none at all, but this life is really a “vale of tears.” It is only grace that allows one to turn it into something beautiful. I have taken much comfort from the lives of the suffering saints, who accompany me on this journey here on earth. I’ve written about this here: and writing during a chronic illness here: I hope it offers your readers some more food for thought.

    • kwpadmin says:

      Being someone who deals with chronic pain myself, I can’t argue with you there! Mine brings headaches too, from a “surgery gone wrong” on my skull almost thirty years ago and resultant nerve damage. And yes, suffering can burn out spiritual and soul impurities like nothing else can. That said, I believe the author is showing how much more than we have any idea, our thoughts determine our actions, and those actions impact our brains and our lives. And that WE CAN CHOOSE much more than we think we can. Her 21-day repeat exercise (that takes 7-15 minutes) daily, is similar to how I was treated for PTSD years ago. Now I can see why the treatment worked–and incidentally, why it also alleviated a lot of the migraines I was having at the time. I hope people will watch the free TV clips and see what they think.

      • Bonnie says:

        I thought about this post over the weekend and retrieved my copy of this Leaf book. I haven’t had the time to reread much of it yet but want to comment on another book of hers since Vijaya made her particular remarks. I recently read Leaf’s book about depression and had similar feelings as Vijaya. While I absolutely agree and am fascinated about neuroplasticity, Leaf’s conclusions about depression left me more depressed. I read the book during a time when I was attempting to wean off an antidepressant. Leaf basically said that anyone with faith and determination could conquer depression on their own without medication. I tried her suggested methods for awhile and while they kept me busy they did not alleviate my depression. I felt very frustrated and guilty. I know that my situation might have been different than someone who was depressed and had never been on medication. I had been taking antidepressants for years after starting them during cancer treatment. Nonetheless, her method did not work for me or at least I wasn’t willing to stay with it long term to wait for results. I went back on a different antidepressant and feel better than in years. I just talk about this in case there are other people who might be reading her books and wondering what is wrong with them that they can’t seem to get the results she promises. [NOTE from Kristi: Bonnie emailed me later and did mention that her concerns/comments referred to Dr. Leaf's first book, not this one. Just FYI.]

        • kwpadmin says:

          Bonnie, I don’t know anything about antidepressants or getting off them. And I would never want to add another burden to any reader. I do remember how horribly hard it was getting off prescription painkillers after several major surgeries though, if it’s anything at all like your drug situation. My post here was certainly not intended to make anyone feel guilty. I have read her book, but am only on Day 5 myself, so I can’t say one way or another yet.

          However, in this book she does say repeatedly that quitting before the 21 days will do you no good at all. You wrote: “Nonetheless, her method did not work for me or at least I wasn’t willing to stay with it long term to wait for results.” In your case of the antidepressents, it still might not work, but in my own case (a situation that has literally plagued me for 35 years) I’m going to give it a full 21 days before I decide. It won’t cost me anything but my time, and if it works, I’ll be one very happy camper!

          • Bonnie says:

            You are absolutely right. I might also try the approach to toxic thoughts. I believe what she said is true and helpful as far as it goes. I probably overstated my disagreement with the depression book. I wanted her to say that there are instances when drugs can be helpful and even essential to recovery. I didn’t think she said that. She may be right for all I know. Maybe I was just reading it through the lens of my own withdrawal symptoms. Having been more or less delivered from a lifetime of occasional serious depression by antidepressants doesn’t make me very objective. When side effects cause me to try to wean myself off of an antidepressant, my family usually says, “take the drug, for Pete’s sake.”

          • kwpadmin says:

            Bonnie, I went back and added a couple of lines to the blog post which I hope explain a bit better why I posted it for others to explore. But I do understand where you’re coming from. Due to some surgical “mistakes” years ago, I may just keep the Excedrin people in business! If her 21-Day detox works on the issues I’m going to try first, then I may be willing to go through the painful withdrawal from daily aspirin and see if that works too. Several days of rebound headaches and migraines make me cry “uncle!” too. What I need is a month-long retreat somewhere (without any deadlines) to see if I could “ride it out” or not. :-)

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