Monday, August 19, 2013

Writing as Personal Therapy

I am an introvert by nature, and I suspect quite a lot of writers are. It’s easy for me to spend many hours on my own, planning and plotting for a novel and then writing scene after scene. I sometimes lose all track of time and place, and am shocked when I turn away from my computer to find it is way past time that I should have been thinking about cooking the evening meal or going to bed.

I have no trouble not speaking to another person for many hours, even days. I have been on many a silent retreat and found them refreshing, rejuvenating, and sometimes life- saving. So it’s no wonder that I find writing a form of personal therapy. The solitude and silence of my writing times are in themselves therapeutic as it gives me relief from all the voices around me, the noises and demands that are constantly a part of so much of our day to day life. Not only do I enjoy the silence and solitude but I find it essential for my well-being.

I also find that being completely immersed in another time and place, another person’s story, enables me to internally reflect on life’s issues; the consequences of actions and words, the meaning of life, the mental and emotional processes of dealing with forgiveness, grief, fear, pride, conflict, faith, love and all the other aspects of personal growth and relationships, which form part of my stories.

In doing this I also wrestle with these issues at a deep level for myself. As a psychologist, I listen to others in counselling sessions, as they deal with these things, and it’s obvious for a lot of people that reflecting with other people is very helpful. But I’m sure I’m not alone as a writer, in being able to do this through my writing, which becomes cathartic, challenging, revealing and inspiring for me.  

I think the creative aspect of writing is also very therapeutic. Words are precious, powerful and wonderful things. As writers we get to play with them, put them together in ways that describe something beautiful, or terrifying, or reflect a character’s feelings and thoughts. We can reshape and reconfigure words until we’re satisfied that they paint the right picture or reveal the right emotion. I love to plot a journey of growth and change, and then explore and experiment with words until they carry my characters along those paths, hopefully in ways that also carry the reader with them. It’s incredibly satisfying to have this creative outlet.

So writing nurtures my heart, mind and soul. I can think of very little that is equally therapeutic for me. I wonder if others have the same experience in their writing?

This week I will be in a chalet in the snow country with my family. (Not this one, but something like it) This will be a wonderful time for our family, but will also mean I have little contact with much of my usual world. I’m looking forward to this – as any introvert would - but it means I am unable to respond to any comments to this blog for a week or so. I will look forward to catching up with your thoughts when I return, so please don’t take my lack of response as disinterest.



  1. Hi Carol
    What a lovely place to spend with your family.

    I can relate to a lot with your experiences - I love quietness and solitude, get caught up in my writing and find it clarifying to be able to write things down. Writing is a gift and a joy.

    I also appreciate the social times with my girlfriends - and being able to vent to close friends. While I often process how I feel and react in my head or on the page, the connection with good friends and family enrich my life and give me perspective. It's great to have both - and great how God makes us all different.

    Thanks for your post. Don't worry about not being able to comment straight away - just enjoy your time with your family.

  2. Thanks, Carol. I understand where you're coming from for sure! May you continue to find such grace and nurture in those times of silence and solitude, writing or otherwise.

  3. Hi Carol
    Thanks for your thoughts. Solitude works well for you - I have read some of your books. I also love it and can get totally lost when working at something. But on the other hand I need to 'get out' regularly, to be challenged and balanced by stimulating discussion/interaction with others, and by seeing and enjoying different environments. Otherwise I feel like my focus gets more and more intense but also more and more narrow. I can imagine what you are thinking right now :)
    I hope you will have a wonderful time with your family; and don't worry, you don't need to answer this comment.

  4. Hi Carol,
    I totally agree with all you say. I too am a good portion of introvert I think and I too recharge my batteries with my time spent alone writing. Writing is indeed great therapy. I hope you are having an awesome week as I type these words in a chalet in the snow. Enjoy it all.

    As Margaret says I need time with others as well - and ironically that too refreshes me. But I do believe we writers are greatly blessed - that we can enjoy our work so much and are refreshed by working! Not all in the workforce would be able to say that, would they?

    Enjoy your time away,

  5. O for a bit of peace and quiet. Good thoughts, Carol.

  6. Yes, I'm pretty much the same. Give me some nice quiet time and a book or computer or just a nice view and I'm satisfied.

  7. Hope you have a great quiet time Carol. Like Margaret I need space and quiet but also interaction with others. A balance of both. We're all different.