Wednesday, July 02, 2008

TO READ: What If Writing Hurts?

A reader commented recently that sometimes writing about difficult experiences or issues left her feeling as though she were reliving that awful time. Is this ever true for you? What can you do to make your writing experience both productive and positive? Lots of suggestions follow.

First, let me reiterate my three "rules" for writing to ease depression (These are discussed in more detail in Writing through the Darkness). Boiled down, they are:

1) Write continuously for the whole time you've allotted yourself. (10 or 20 minutes to start.)

2) Write for yourself. (Perfection and careful arguments are not required.)

3) If a topic feels too threatening, don't write on it today.

About #3: As you write more often, you'll learn to challenge yourself while still retaining safe boundaries. If something feels overwhelming, wait. Write on something else less charged for now. You may want to talk to a therapist or close friend about the issue and digest it before trying it again next week or next month when it feels less scary. Trust your instincts and be safe first.

Other thoughts on writing on tough issues (Again, loads more on this in the book). . .

-- It's most useful to write about both thoughts and feelings in a single session, not just one or the other.

-- Try writing about the event in the form of a story: A character runs into a problem; the character tries (perhaps several times) to solve the problem; the character somehow solves it or resolves the situation (even if that means deciding to wait for now).

-- Don't let yourself ruminate endlessly on one particular problem if you're not making progress with it. Let it go for now and write on other topics and come back to it in a week or a month.

-- Talk with a therapist about the issue to see if you can break the logjam in your thoughts and find some new perspective.

--Always try to end a tough writing session with even a few minutes on a positive topic -- try three quick minutes on the most relaxed you've ever felt, what you would do with $100 if you found it on the street today, or the most soothing image you can imagine.

Good luck, and remember to follow your instincts and make caring for yourself the number one priority with your writing.

1 comment:

jumpinginpuddles said...

i think these are good suggestions, we write to releive stress and to tell otehrs they arent alone and by writing we also feel not so alone