When Writing Heals Our Wounds

Saturday, April 27, 2019

There are many reasons we write.

We write because we want to make money and support ourselves and our families. I started out my career writing press releases and news briefs for public relations clients because it seemed like a natural way to make a paycheck out of a communications degree.

We write because editors ask us to. When we become experts on a specific topic (such as human interest stories or parenting), editors will think of us when they have a story they need to assign.

We write because our minds and hearts are filled with stories that beg to be let out. I can’t even remember when I first started putting my ideas down on paper, but I was in elementary school at the very least. I still remember one of the first creative pieces I worked on having a thriller/suspense element, and I couldn’t have been older than fifth grade.

There’s another reason we write. We write because it serves as therapy for us. When I worked on an essay about my alcoholic father-in-law (and his legacy as a songwriter) a few months ago, I was able to process some of the emotions I’d been suppressing since his death. Sharing the piece with my husband and two kids helped them to heal as well, even if there were a few tears shed.

The idea for my award-winning story “The Polaroid” came from a desire to take the story of a girl missing for years and give it a happy ending. And most recently, I was able to process a memory of a possible pedophile that was a friend of my parents (and the near miss I had with him) in an essay tentatively titled “A Drive on the Parkway.”

And when I began writing my short story, “The Name You’re Not Supposed to Call Women,” I didn’t know it would help me make sense of older boyfriend I had in high school who belittled me and spent almost two years breaking down my confidence before stalking me after our break-up.

But my notebooks are also filled with poems I’ll likely never share and stories that never see a word of revision. That’s because they serve a purpose of helping me heal my wounds in the only way I know how.

Author Graham Greene once said:
“Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how those who do not write, compose, or paint can manage to escape the madness, melancholia, the panic, and fear which is inherent in a human situation.”

In I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou wrote:
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.”

Songwriter Lucinda Williams has said:
“I write first for myself as a therapeutic process, to get stuff out and deal with it.”

Now it’s your turn. How has your writing helped heal your wounds?

Renee Roberson is an award-winning freelance writer and editor who also works as a marketing director for a nonprofit theatre company. Learn more at FinishedPages.com.


Sioux Roslawski said...

Renee--That is such an easy question to answer.

I've used writing to heal from never knowing my birth mother. Am I completely healed? No, but I get better and better with each piece I write about it.

I wrote to forgive my brother after he did something many people say was unforgivable. I was writing a novel (a hot mess that will never be seen by another person again) and I wrote a dream-scene that made me realize my brother was an addict, and his addiction made him do what he did. The scene was completely unplanned. It was truly divine intervention, in my opinion.

I write to vent. When I can't say what I honestly want to say to parents, I write.

Thanks for such an honest post on an always-needed topic.

Anonymous said...

Writing has always been such a great escape for me. I've had a mundane then crazy life; it comes and goes in waves.
Writing lets me make up ideal worlds or pour out my issues into characters or situations.

Angela Mackintosh said...

Renee ~ I love all the reasons you listed for why you write, including each piece you've written recently (many I've read) and your reason for writing them. It's beautiful.

I write to find answers. About myself, about others, about social issues, about events.

I rarely write from a position of therapy or wanting to heal my wounds, but it does happen organically through the process. I write frequently about my mother in an attempt to understand a person I only knew as a child. Writing about her makes me feel close to her, almost like she's writing through me. I feel so much love, empathy, and sorrow when I write about her.

Another piece I wrote recently was to a lover who just got out of prison. It was filled with regret, and spilled onto the page. I don't think this is the best type of writing because regret isn't what publishers want to read, so perhaps I just wrote it for myself.

I wrote another piece about addiction that made me realize my origin story for the addiction that started at ten.

Most of all, I write to help others by sharing my own personal stories. That piece that was published recently about sexual assault was written with college age women in mind because they're prone to street harassment, but also for all women.

Cheers to therapeutic writing! :)

Mary Horner said...

Renee, I write for many reasons, including the ones you and others have listed above. When I write, however, I don't always know why, but like Sioux, stuff just comes up and out. Sometimes I use this, and sometimes I don't, but I feel richer for having made those connections.

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