Journaling is a known psychiatric treatment. It gives ample time for introspection, makes one organize his/her thoughts, and helps the writer track his/her progress.
Even as a preschooler, I couldn’t get the hang of journaling. To whom was I really addressing it? Myself, or a tiny bug who read it after I put it away? It confounded me, so the entries I wrote throughout elementary school typically began with “Dear Journal,” followed by two to five sentences about my day, and concluded with, “That’s all. Bye.” A literary phenomenon in the making, am I right?
Once I started writing fiction, I began to understand the hype. True, making up stories doesn’t allow you to analyze how a real-life situation unraveled, but it gives you the chance to perhaps create a similar one. This can make it easier to relive an experience in a way that doesn’t seem so revealing and raw.
When you do that, it opens the door to all kinds of fun, stress-relieving tricks. Most amusing, in my opinion, is the ability to make a character react as you wish you could have. The real world imposes so many limits on us, making us either unable to respond the way we feel or too afraid to. In a fictitious plot, however, an author can make the rules. Early in my writing, I often made a character storm away after a heated argument, because I, being disabled, never can. Granted, consequences of actions should be realistic for the most part, but it’s the character who has to live with them, not you.
On the contrary, writing your actual reaction to a scenario has its benefits, too. It helps you step back as a narrator, giving you an outsider’s perspective. A few times throughout the years, I’ve added something I’ve done or felt, and initially, I’m proud, typing with a rather smug smirk. By the time I finish it, though, I realize I was wrong…and sometimes erase it, wishing I could do so in reality.
Another advantage writing gives your psyche is the opportunity to figure out someone else’s point of view—or try to, at least. All good stories showcase people’s different opinions and personalities, even if only through dialogue. Hence, an author has to contemplate why both protagonists and antagonists act as they do or make the decisions they make. When the character is inspired by someone in the author’s life, then, it can give him/her better insight into that muse.
I’ve heard several say they always wanted to write, but life thwarted that. I can understand, as it does take a lot of time and dedication. But if disappointments or anxieties are holding you back, break free. You may well find that writing’s just what you need to persevere.
3 thoughts on “The Therapeutic Benefits of Writing”