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When writing becomes therapy…

Sometimes, I don’t want to talk to people.

It’s only after doing a counselling course, almost four years of an MSc in writing therapy, and going to therapy myself that I realised: I am a highly functioning introvert.

I thought, because I spoke loudly (and whined even louder) that I was an extrovert. But I’m not. Because talking makes me tired. And I can go a whole day in silence and it feels like being cuddled by kittens and kissed by mother nature.

But when shit happens, I want to write.

It used to be, I would write stories, but these days I write journal entries, poems, snippets of stories, lists and blog posts. In one of the many things I’ve learnt on my course, the most obvious is that it exists: there is a degree in creative writing for therapeutic purposes because creative writing HAS therapeutic purposes.

So today has been a pretty crappy day, in one of a few fairly crappy weeks, which in consideration of the things happening politically in the world at the moment, feels like a pretty crappy time in general.

And after a fairly stressful doctor’s appointment, the feeling that I don’t have the time to do enough for my job, the fact that I couldn’t work on my novel, am dealing with uncertainly, instability and have 6 weeks to fix a dissertation which for all intents and purposes a pile of wank, I had one thought.

Well, that’s a lie, I briefly thought about crying, but the cat didn’t want to cuddle, so I ate an entire pack of fruit pastilles in under a minute and forgot to check if they were vegetarian. But THEN, I had one thought:

I want to write. I just want to write.

The problem is, that’s most of my problem. My work is writing. My research is writing. My novel writing is, surprisingly, writing. And the only way I can honestly and authentically engage with the world in a way that doesn’t make me want to pass out with exhaustion is writing.

And so, dear readers, if you think you’d like to use writing as therapy, here’s a few tips to get you started:

  • Write a list of things that make you happy. Try and fill more than one page.
  • Write about a memory that makes you smile.
  • Write a love letter, and not a traditional one. Tell your parent you love them, write to your friend telling them all the wonderful things about themselves. Hell, write yourself a goddamn love letter, because I’m sure you deserve it.

There are a hundred ways writing can make you feel better. Sometimes it’s small and slow, journalling each day and siphoning off the sorrow. Maybe it’s an agitated tweet or an angry poem.

Or maybe it’s a slightly weary, slightly tearful blog post, where you started or moaning about your day, and ended it hoping you could make others feel better about theirs.

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