This blogpost was originally published as a guest post about the third volume of the 52 Weeks of Writing Author Journal and Planner on All the Ups and Downs. The owner of the blog asked me to answer the following question: Do you believe writing can be therapeutic?
Here’s my answer:
Writing—or being creative in general—can be highly therapeutic. There’s a reason I included the following quote by Graham Greene in the first volume of the 52 Weeks of Writing Author Journal and Planner (that is the green one):
Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose or paint can manage to escape the madness, melancholia, the panic and fear which is inherent in a human situation.
Generally, I believe that committing your thoughts to paper (or to a computer screen) carries tremendous healing power. For example, it is through journaling—I write longhand in a physical journal—that I uncover what’s troubling me at any given time, which then enables me to start working through it. Writing is also about voicing your thoughts and speaking your truth, even if you’re speaking it only to yourself.
This goes for anyone, whether you consider yourself a writer or not, and whether you do something like Julia Cameron’s ‘morning pages’, have a daily gratitude journal practice, or write letters to someone who will never read them. Any writing down of whatever goes on inside of you, of whatever needs to come out, can be beneficial.
However, if you’re a writer, if writing is your calling, the act of writing itself can be therapeutic too. If I stay away from writing for too long, I become restless and moody and all round unpleasant. As if all that creative energy inside bottles up and begins to fester if I don’t channel it into something.
At least part of it has to do with escapism, which is what Graham Greene alludes to in the quote. I love getting lost in the fictional worlds I’ve created and am creating, even if only for an hour a day. It helps me deal with the ‘madness, melancholia, the panic and fear’, which we have more than enough of now.
Likewise, I love becoming lost in a project like 52 Weeks of Writing Vol. III. Collecting and picking out those writing quotes, and coming up with writing and journal prompts and exercises, that’s a form of therapy for me too. The quotes are meant to inspire those who work with the author/journal, but they obviously inspire me as well as I decide which to include. Most of the included prompts and exercises are therapeutic in nature too, which obviously affects me in very much the same way.
So yes, I absolutely believe that writing can be therapeutic, both the act of writing itself and what we end up writing down when we take the time for it.
If you’re curious whether your writing practice is therapeutic in any way, simply ask yourself why you write. Set a timer to ten minutes, take your journal, and answer that question. Once you’re done, reflect on your notes. What does this tell you?