Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Creativity as therapy?

I've been taking a brief break from the blog while I toss around a few ideas for future projects. Possibly not for the immediate future, but I'm beginning to see a glimmer of light at the end of a very long tunnel and starting to plan, in my head at least, for the day when I may have more time available. Not just more time to actually write, but time to expand my interests into other writing-related projects.

One of the questions I've been asking myself is why do we write? I'm guessing that the answer to this will be different for every writer. Some may write as therapy, others just to let out the stories which are swirling around their heads. I guess for many writers it will, initially at least, be a combination of the two.

My first novel, Walking on Tiptoe, has its seeds in my own experience. But it's not my story, nor that of anyone I know. It was created from a mish-mash of things of things I've seen, heard and read over many years, with a lot of imagination thrown in. Most of my short stories have started in the same way.

Actual life writing (memoir) is much harder. I find that I can only write about life events from which I now have a considerable distance. When Son 1 was a new-born, struggling for life in intensive care, my writer's instinct told me I should be keeping a diary. But I could only live in the moment, I couldn't even revisit the trauma of earlier the same day. Perhaps my brain was protecting me.

I've only written about our experiences in the neonatal unit once, a poem which is on my website. I rarely write poetry, except for writing course assignments, but almost sixteen years after the event I was compelled to write that one and doing so was hugely beneficial at another difficult time.

I truly believe in creativity being therapeutic. Not just writing but fine art and handicrafts, music and dramatic arts. I've always had the urge to create, to write, to knit and sew, or even create greetings cards and jewellery. I find such creativity both relaxing and occasionally frustrating when things go wrong. It's not coincidental that creative arts therapies are used to much with people who have disabilities or mental health issues.

I wish that more people had the time to explore their own creative sides. The product doesn't have to be beautiful or saleable, it is the process of creation which provides the benefit. Whether we sell our work or not we should be proud of it.

1 comment:

Debbie Coope said...

I've always loved to write fiction. The whole process of gathering information and getting it down on paper or typing it. A part from short stories, I've never finished writing a full length one. Doing NaNo has been a great experience so far for getting a daily word count, and I believe I'm going to get that book written this month. The first draft anyway.
Writing is therapy for yourself and those who read it.