Saturday, January 28, 2012

Writing Therapy

Obviously I love writing. I've always loved writing. Ever since I was little I've used writing as a form of therapy. In my teen years it was poetry. I can't tell you how many broken hearts, unrequited loves, BFF fights, or parent issues I have worked through with poetry. I even have a few old journals to prove it.

The older I got, the less poetry I wrote. Still, when something major happened, I still pulled out my journal and a pen. When my dad died, that's what I did. I listened to his favorite song over and over and I wrote a poem for him. I shared some things we'd never talked about in real life and it helped.

When I started writing books, things changed a little bit. I was writing mostly to tell my characters' stories. I mean, I used little things here or there that I'd seen or dealt with, but that's all.

And then I got an idea for a book. I didn't even realize how much that book would come to mean to me. The more I wrote, the more I realized that part of it was my story. Not all of it and though the situation was different, in some ways, it was still mine.

An amazing thing happened, because it helped me too. Helped when I didn't realize I needed it. It was a way for me to get out the feelings I'd held in. A way for me to share an experience. A way for me to work through emotions I didn't realize I still had.

In other words, it was therapy.

Amazing the things reading and writing can do.

Has a book ever felt like a form of therapy for you?


  1. All the time! Even when I don't think I'm writing about my own experiences or my obsessions, they creep their way in there...

  2. Definitely. And it was a similar experience to yours. I wrote poetry as a teenager to deal with how lonely and isolated I felt at times. Then I wrote a play to help understand the suicide of a friend (I plan on turning it into a book at some stage).

    Then my dad was diagnoised with terminal cancer. I started writing what happened the first night I saw him after I found out he had terminal cancer (we lived in different cities). It ended up as an autobiographical short story and was published in The Australian Literary Review's anthology The Basics of Life.

    When I got the call to say Dad had died, my husband and I were debated if I should get on a plane. It was too late. That night I made it to Mum and it was horrific. I wrote a flash fiction The First Night Without You Here to help me deal with that.

    It's still so fresh for me (he died 1 November 2010) and I'm still dealing. Part of the process for me is now a novel called The Living List. Even though this one is fiction, it's inspired by the events surrounding Dad's death and is something I will dedicate to him if it ever gets published.

    Thanks so much for sharing something so intimate Kelley.

  3. Absolutely. Even when it's not my story, it's someone else's, it's therapeutic to escape.

  4. I used to write poetry when I was a teen too! And just like you they were about heartbreak and fights. I still have most of them, they are always good to get me to cringe :)

    I felt like I wrote this post. Because I also stopped writing poetry but when my grandfather passed away a few years ago I took out my pen and paper and wrote a poem for him. It is the best therapy.

    I noticed with one of my books I wrote there was an underlying meaning that I didn't intend. It's about a girl who has a baby, moves to a new town and keeps it a secret from the boy she likes. She has accepted responsibility for her actions and is a good mom. He's a bad boy doesn't want to grow up. In the end I realized it's about me. All of my friends are having kids and growing up and I'm not ready to grow up yet. During my reread I was like, "Oh so that's what this is about." lol.

    Great post :)

  5. Definitely. Both my stories and stories I read. But mostly mine.

  6. Oh, yes. I came across old poetry the other day, and even though it made me cringe and giggle, I recall the tears I cried at the time, and how it helped. For me, with novel writing, it's about the bigger picture for me, rather than the details - it's the concepts of love and hope and the overall goodness that can be found in humanity despite hard times. <3

  7. Love hearing this. It's amazing what reading and writing can do for us!

  8. Apparently they study writing as therapy at the U of Texas. I'd love to read some of their papers.