Q&A a Day for Writers: Therapy and the Written Word

Q & A a Day For Writers: In her essay “Fail Better,” Zadie Smith says, “The very reason I write is so that I might not sleepwalk through my entire life.” Why do you write? What does it do for you?

Writing has always been a significant part of my life. It was one of the first things that I became good at and I continued to hone my skills in the written word throughout college as a journalist and in media relations as a staff writer.

While I’ve been passionate for the written word as a medium of self-expression, journalistic AP-style writing doesn’t really allow you to express yourself. There are ethics involved as your responsibility is to document day-to-day events as accurately and factually as possible. It’s also discouraged to use colorful language or descriptors because they’re biased, which goes against a journalist’s purpose as serving as an objective mediator and watchdog for the public.

In media relations the writing isn’t as strict, but everything has a positive spin to it and it’s still meant to mimic the stylistic writing of journalists for dissemination to the public.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved the pieces I worked on as a journalist and a staff writer. They helped me sharpen my writing from what was mediocre to something held in high regard among my peers.

My real love for writing stems from my time taking literature and creative writing classes in high school and the early days of my college career. We often went through various works, learning how to analyze motifs and hidden messages buried within walls of text.

More than that, the extra step in analysis allowed me to grasp the themes cleverly placed by authors in their novels and to view a whole spectrum of emotions expressed by a myriad of characters.

These classes encouraged me to write my own stories and poems, which I started doing years ago for the pleasure of writing.

As events in my life took a downward spiral, my writing became therapeutic and transformative, allowing me to use my deep-seated emotions as a catalyst to fuel my work. There wasn’t an immediate effect from pouring my emotions into my pieces, but over time it allowed me to cope with various issues and truly express myself.

No one in my life understood or wanted to be there when I needed them the most, so I turned to the written word as my only confidant and friend who wouldn’t judge me. It would accept the black ink that spilled onto paper without forcing anything upon me as a price to pay for the therapy session.

Gradually I became outgoing enough to share my work with the world; I was hesitant, but I found an amazing community that has been incredibly supportive. I’ve found that I’m not alone and that my work resonates with thousands of other people who have experienced similar pain and emotions, even if the circumstances aren’t identical.

What once started as writing for fun has turned into a means of self-expression. I write not only for the therapeutic appeal, but because there are many writers and readers out there who I can engage and build relationships with through the written word.

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