Photo by Cathline Dickens
It was not me who said it, I heard it for the first time from Chuck Palahniuk, at his reading in Seattle. It struck me like lightning, because I realized that's exactly what I've been doing, writing for therapy. Chuck mentioned it as an answer to one of the reader's question about how to make it in this world as a writer, how to make money. And Chuck said something along the lines of, hey, when you write, you never know if it will be published or not, whether you will sell it or not, but you're spending your time on it. Write for therapy. Then, even if it won't get published, it will make you feel better. I can attest to that. It's true. I've been through a lot of shit (you can read about it here), and writing finally made me graduate from my shrink. Hell, it made my graduate from my ADD pills and anxieties and even my fear of darkness. Seriously, as a grown woman, I'd be afraid to walk into a dark room. No more. I noticed a pattern to how this works, how writing helps my mood. Here are a few stories, perhaps they will sway you in the direction of writing if you're still doubting yourself.
Whenever hurt, write and immediately release the pain. Two days ago some punks robbed our garage. My boyfriend's son was taking out garbage and left the garage unattended for a few minutes. We don't have much, but we did have golf clubs and motorcycle helmets and bikes. Needless to say, one of the bikes, the clubs and the helmets were gone. Glad the motorcycle wasn't touched. We ran after them, but they jumped in the car and were gone. I felt like someone punched me in the gut and left me to rot in the ditch. Those of you who follow me on Twitter might have noticed heavy tweeting around 10 minutes after it happened. Why? Because I was shedding the stress. I was writing out my feelings, and in that, getting rid of them. In about an hour they were gone. Today I feel sorry for those punks, because I know that the meager stuff they stole won't help their real problems. Do you think I could've done this several years ago? No fucking way. I would've suppressed the anger for weeks, carrying it inside me, letting it eat me alive. So this is why I write. For therapy.
Write and shed your old pain that became chronic. My own personal story is very unpleasant and gory, so I will spare you the details. In short, I have lost my mom for years and didn't even know if she was alive or not, didn't have her phone or address. I went back to Russia several years ago and have found her. The problem is, I quit my career to write, I'm broke and I can't bring her over here. Not yet. She's had a hard life and needs to be taken care of. I can't afford it yet because I'm only now starting to do what I always dreamed about doing. Writing. Whether or not I can make money at this, remains to be seen. So, daily, I'm in pain. I miss her. I want to share my time with her while I can. But I no longer suffer as much, because I write about my pain in my book, and every day I shed a little more of it, and I becomes a little lighter. I no longer need to go to therapy, I no longer have long bouts of crying after calling her and listening to her horror stories. I transform it into writing, and it helps. Oh, it helps like magic. Seriously. If you have some hidden old pain in you, it's time you let it go. Life is too short, and it's not worth being bent down by pain. Write.
Live your dream the way you want it, right now. All of us have unfulfilled wishes, whatever they might be. To travel around the world, buy a personal jet and fly to Paris for dinner, go to that awesome concert of that awesome band or learn how to dive. You name it. Whatever your dream is, life is always short on giving you everything you want. So here is a way to have it all. Put it n your story, in your book, and experience it. It's almost like doing the real thing, and it will make you so happy, as if you're actually doing it. Like, for example, I have a taste for expensive gadgetry, partly because I studied design, but it goes deeper. I grew up watching my mom design clothes (yeah, she's one of those starving artists who creates amazing things but doesn't know how to sell them). She taught me how to see beauty in things. Whenever I go to a store to buy, say, a new watch, the one I like always ends up the most expensive. I mean, I don't even go to stores anymore, because there is no point, I can't afford what I like. Thus, cleverly, the antagonist in my book is wearing an Officine Panerai watch. There, I have my dream. Legitimately, I spent hours researching the thing and got to describe it in detail. Ah, it's almost as if I had it. You can do the same, live your dream, now. Write.
Once you start writing for therapy, once you truly start writing for yourself, for your own inner true self, expressing honestly how you feel, a curious thing happens. Others notice. You know why? Because they can relate. Because they feel the same. We all do. We're all trying to make sense of our existence and hold each other's hands while we're at it. So, there, write. Feel better yourself and even make this world a little better. Book by book, maybe we'll manage to turn it around, eh? What do you think?