Can writing be a therapy?
By Georgia Wright
Collage by Collage by Brittany Hendry
All art that is created from or inspired by personal experience inherently becomes like therapy. For me, sitting down to write is like sitting down with an old friend. Without even thinking about it, we talk about everything and nothing all at once. There is no memory to sore to put to paper when it’s completely your own and nobody else's.
For me, my mind is the only place where I can really be alone. Nobody else can ever know what you’re thinking, or what you choose to remember. And whilst I think that is one of the most precious things we have as people, it can be particularly claustrophobic without any kind of outlet. Especially, when consumed by things that we don't necessarily want to revisit alone.
As people, we’re told: “talk to me” or “you should really talk to someone about it.” And that’s a good thing, it’s good to talk. But it’s also good to write, and create- and we should be telling people: “you should write about that.” You don’t have to share it, no one has to read it, but seeing a problem written down in front of you really makes it seem half the size.
"The sooner you lose the magnifying glass that is overthinking, you can jot something down, step back, and see that it is what it is."
We also need to realise that as human beings, emotions are something we will never have control over. I think all feelings, both big and small, are much like to us as the wind is to a sailboat. One gust and everything seems to go, the sails fill and you’re heading in some kind of direction. And when the breeze dies, going almost as quickly as it came, you’re left as you once were, still, waiting for the next gust to send you on your way. We can not control the wind, in the same way, we can not control our own emotions. And although they are just that, our own, that is not to say that they really belong to us, so any outlet you can find is a good one. Some people choose to exercise, some people chew another person's ear off- I choose to write.
Writing down memories that haunt you, or personal experience that troubles you absolutely takes you back those places. I know it sounds scary- but it’s not. It takes you back, but only in the sense that you are on the outside looking in. As if you were looking through a window, or watching them in a home film, with shaky camera shots and people you once knew.
When I studied “Writing from Life” at University, memoir writer and general goddess Mary Karr summed this up perfectly. She said: “Your memoir’s real enemy is blinking back at you- your ignorant ego and it’s myriad masks”
It’s true- and it’s not always pretty. You realise things about yourself and the things you wish you’d done or said differently. But the idea is, the sooner you lose the magnifying glass that is overthinking- in my case at least, you can jot something down, step back, and see that it is what it is. Or what it isn’t, either way, it’s staring you in the face, on a blank page, and you’ve won.
And if it’s still fucking with you- scribble it out and start again.