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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Writing Prompt 24: Writing as Therapy

Prompt: Is writing a form of self therapy?

I believe it is. During the most stressful, irritating and aggravating points in my life, I always write. I write stories, poetry, songs, journal entries and of course essays. I still write these things, and I still learn from them. In middle school, when I had about three major issues in my life, two of which I felt I couldn't handle at all, I began writing a story about a character who had no idea who she was, why she had to deal with life and who she could actually trust and believe in. As I wrote that story, I became more and more connected with the main character. As she grew and changed, I did. She began to trust when I decided to reach out. She learned how to deal with things which I slowly discovered as well. She became a very important character and gave me a new insight into myself. When life was difficult, I could write about this character and learn how she coped with it. When I had no idea what I wanted, she would, and I gradually discovered myself through my character. This is also true of my poetry and songs. I recently looked back on them, and discovered that even though the words were not the same, each poem and song was about the same topic. In more than fifty different poems and lyrics I was writing about my longing to believe in something, anything to help me cope with the world around me. When I started going to college, I picked my essay topics in relation to the growth and development of characters, the myth quest and archetypal symbolism. I honestly remember, as I was writing my Alice in Wonderland essay, stopping for a moment and realizing that I wasn't writing just about Alice. I was writing about myself. Even if Alice was the topic of my paper, I discovered that I had similar situations and learned from them, or ran from them. Alice ran from the Jabberwocky, while I ran from connections and intimacy. Emma learned from her mistake at Knob Hill while I learned from my choice to drop good friends. More and more I become convinced that writing is therapy.
In my novel class, we talk about the relationship of the writer and the writing. The novel and the author are always connected by some aspect in the story that the author is trying to understand about his or her self. The reason we write is to explore the truth about ourselves. While fantasy may not be related or even similar to real life, the character a reader connects with is always empathetic through similar experiences. In many ways, we write to learn. We learn about the world, ourselves, life in general and we learn what we want. Writing is a wonderful way to express how we feel, what we think and what we observe. It is more than a craft or art, it's a way of life. Practice, routine and discipline all apply to writing. Through writing we discover new aspects of ourselves, understand our mistakes, learn to make choices and, of course, learn to cope with life. Stories are used to learn. Songs are written to express emotions. Poems express thoughts and feelings. Essays express opinions. All of these pieces of writing reflect the writer. The concept of "voice" becomes the writer's tool to express themselves through writing, regardless if the writing is a story, song, poem or essay. The topic they are writing about matters to them in some way and can be further explored through writing.
There have been arguments that the writer's voice is their subconscious mind, which they tap into now and then, creating images or messages to understand the world around them. Writing is processing. It polishes thoughts, emotions and messages for the writer and communicates them to the reader. So, yes I believe writing is a form of therapy, and no matter what you write, the act of writing clarifies something in you. It could be a problem you are trying to resolve, an opinion you wish to express, an emotion you can't ignore and a thought you want to explore. Writing can help you discover and understand the parts of your self that seem very unclear on the surface. It is a way to organize the chaos in your mind and heart. Writing is therapy.

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