I’ve given this suggestion to many a friend suffering with some affliction or another, and now I bring it to you: Write through it. Whatever is going on—good, bad, or ugly. Write it out of you until the impact of it fades.
I remember being in therapy as a kid, dealing with the consequences of the anger and depression that plagued me after my parents’ divorce. They loved to have you do this exercise where you wrote a letter and got out everything you wanted to say, but never sent it. It is a surprisingly helpful method. (So long as you don’t actually send it.)
This sort of thing applies most of all to writers. If your nature is to write, then it only makes sense that this is the way to move forward. We spend so much time crafting worlds with our words that we sometimes forget how therapeutic it is.
There is a word for it. Catharsis.
I love this word. I love to say it and think it and I love the way it feels on my tongue. Say it. Go ahead. Out loud. Nice, eh? But what is it? (I had to look it up, too, the first time I heard it.)
Catharsis (according to Merriam-Webster): purification or purgation of the emotions (as pity and fear) primarily through art
Isn’t that a beautiful thing? Purification of the emotions through art…
Do you get a buzz from writing? Do you walk away from the keyboard feeling energized and accomplished? (Or on a bad day feeling like you want to give up?) Then why wouldn’t you think writing can do more for your emotions?
There are a few ways to do this.
- Blog about it.
I was recently so annoyed by the constance of the self-pub vs. traditional publishing debate that I sat down and wrote a blog post about it. I felt much better afterward, just having gotten my thoughts down to look at. Sometimes it takes writing it out for me to even really understand how I feel about a thing.
- Make your world your own.
Is something off in your life? A job you hate, a relationship going to crap, a longing that goes unfulfilled? Indulge fully in your writing. Live out your fantasies through your characters. Kill someone you can’t actually kill in real life. Refine your world and your problems. Turn them into rainbows and unicorns and dance in the fields with them.
- Journal it.
Spew those feelings out on the page. No one’s going to read it. Tell the paper how mad/upset/jealous you are. It won’t judge you. It won’t argue. It’ll listen. And when you’re done, the page will burn or delete just as efficiently. Be as honest as you dare. Say it like you never could in real life. Get it out of your head and onto the page.
- Transform it.
I don’t really write poetry. Or rather, I write it on occasion, but I don’t consider myself a poet because I have no desire to further my poetry writing ability. But when I have many feels going on, out it comes in poetry form. Very rarely does anyone get to read these. They’re bad. Like I said. I’m not a poet. But for some reason, constructing my emotions into something written in a format I don’t normally write in, makes it feel crafted. Like my emotions have become their own thing, their own work of art. They move outside of me and become their own thing. Then, I can walk away from them and leave them behind.
Next time you’re just not feeling whatever you want to be feeling, write it out. However works for you. Try them all! I use them all, depending on what it is that’s going on. Some things are better poems, some are better blogs. But don’t fester, don’t dwell. Don’t let that negativity run around your head, goofing up everything in your world. Let it out to be its own demon. It’s easier to contain and kill once it is not a part of you.