Diana Raab, PhD is a memoirist, poet, essayist, blogger, and speaker. She presents workshops in writing for healing and transformation. She has a PhD in Psychology with a concentration in Transpersonal Psychology with a research focus on the healing and transformative powers of memoir writing. Her educational background also includes health administration, nursing and creative writing. Diana is the author of Writing for Bliss: A Seven-Step Plan for Telling Your Story and Transforming Your Life and eight other titles.
Diana has been writing since an early age. As an only child of two immigrant parents, she spent a lot of time crafting letters and chronicling her life in a journal. As an advocate of personal writing, Diana facilitates workshops in writing for transformation and empowerment, focusing on journaling, poetry and memoir writing. She believes in the importance of writing to achieve wholeness and interconnectedness while encouraging the ability to unleash the true voice of the inner self. Her writing has been seen in Forbes, HuffPost, MindBodyGreen, SixtyandMe, and Psychology Today.
Tell us in your own words what you do.
I am a memoirist, poet, and thought-provoker. I write articles and poems about creativity, health, and spirituality. My mission is to teach, inspire, and offer hope to those in need. I also facilitate writing workshops that inspire and empower others to write their own stories, whether it is for their healing, their family legacy, or for publication.
Did you have any setback, challenges, or epiphanies along the way?
I don’t think anyone, regardless of their profession, has not had challenges or setbacks. I am a two-time cancer survivor. In 2001, just months before 9/11, I was diagnosed with an early form of breast cancer, DCIS. I had major surgery two weeks before the towers fell to the ground and while healing my own body, I was healing for my country. It was a very challenging time. While I journaled before and after my surgery, I had to put writing for publication on hold. At that time, I was also unable to do any teaching. I think all our experiences make us stronger and also give us something to write about. I believe in the old adage, “If it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger.”
Tell us about your work. How did you decide to take the leap to work for yourself? What are some of the greatest accomplishments thus far? Any particular challenges someone should think about before trying to go out on their own?
I have been writing since I was ten years old, when my mother gave me a journal to help cope with my grandmother and caretaker’s suicide. That was back in 1964. Since then, I have turned to journaling during challenging times such as raising three adolescents, losing loved ones, and coping with each cancer diagnosis. Because I was an only child, I spent a lot of time alone. I read and wrote all the time. During grade school, my teachers always said that I was a wonderful writer and they inspired me to write more. I became the editor of the high school and college newspapers. I then started Nursing Horizons just after graduating from nursing school. For my undergraduate degree I minored in journalism and wrote my first book on difficult pregnancies while on bedrest with my first daughter. Over the years, I always went with the flow with my passion for writing and always seemed to have a project or two to work on. My books and articles are always timely.
I now sponsor a program at UCSB that inspires young writers, as it’s important to have a network. It’s also important to apprentice with writers, therefore, I typically use writing students as assistants.
Before becoming a writer, it’s important to love what you do and expect the unexpected. Believe in yourself and try to have a hard skin as every writer gets their share of rejections.
If you could give one piece of advice for future students, what would it be?
I have a few pieces of advice to offer. Love what you do and do what you love. Follow your heart. Listen to your inner voice and tap into your intuition.
Share with us some advice and experience.
Through the process of building your career, it’s important to stay positive and self-aware. As a writer you will sometimes get kudos, while other times your words will barely be acknowledged. Believe in your work, be tenacious, and send your work out to as many venues, journals, and publishers as possible. This gives you a greater chance of becoming published.
Share some tips on how to become more of a happier and healthier person.
Studies have shown that happiness is tied to gratitude. Those who are grateful tend to be happier. To be healthy, it’s important to create a good work/play balance. Self-care is very important, whether it’s going for a massage, going for a walk, going out with friends, writing or reading a book. At least once a day, do something that makes your heart sing.
Who have been your biggest mentors and what is the best advice they have ever given you?
Unfortunately, now that I am in my late sixties, many of my mentors have passed away. But, I will never forget their words of inspiration. My first mentor was my sixth grade teacher who told me that I had a special knack for the written word and should never stop writing. I had a few professors in college who told me the same. They said that I had a way of presenting complicated subjects in an easy-to-understand manner.
One of my dear friends and mentors, Thomas Steinbeck, the son of writer John Steinbeck, died in 2016. For about ten years before his passing, we met a few times a week to talk about our respective work. I was helping him write his memoir. When we spoke about my work, he’d tell me to focus on my own writing and not spend so much time lecturing and teaching. He said to write more and more poetry because it was very good and it touched people at a deep level. Another one of my mentors was writer Philip Deaver, who used to tell me, “when it hurts, write harder.”
To what do you attribute your success?
I attribute my success to my commitment to the written word. Further, to be a published writer you must believe in your work and you must be tenacious and keep sending your work out, regardless of the number of rejections.
Tell us about your proudest achievement.
I am blessed to say that I have a number of achievements that I’m proud of. First and foremost, I am proud of my three children, who are in their thirties. They are all wonderful, loving, and thoughtful. I always feel their presence. They also blessed me with five grandchildren, which is a huge achievement because when I was diagnosed with cancer I was worried that I’d never get a chance to meet my grandchildren. I’m also proud of my husband and his accomplishments. I’m proud of myself and how I achieved my PhD when I was in my sixties. For me this was huge, since my mother always told me that she didn’t think I’d make it to college. Only when I realized that I loved the healing arts by first becoming a nurse, did I begin to do well in school. I was glad to prove her wrong. I’m proud of my ten books of poetry and nonfiction and all the articles I’ve written for Psychology Today, Thrive Global, The Wisdom Daily, Sixty and Me and more.