How Do You Write Therapeutically?


Greetings and welcome back. Last week’s entry unveiled a new top-level page here at The Octopode, all about Salamander City, the forest acreage and log cabin I work on every week. If you missed it, head on over and check it out. It will be an ongoing subject of future blogs here.

Today I’m unveiling something else for you, unrelated: a new Misfortune 500! Let me ask you, what does the picture above make you think of?  If you had to spin a very short horror tale around what is in that picture, what would be about?  Take 120 seconds to read 500 words of horror having to do with that image, I fucking dare you.

Now, for a little bit of content specific to today’s title.

On March 10, my dearest friend and closest companion finished his sixteen years of life as a canine on planet Earth. Blake was, simply put, the best. I adore him. His passing and his absence have been extremely difficult.

Friends, and the vet who helped me let him go, have given advice and a shoulder to cry on. Donations were made in his name to animal welfare organizations. Cards were sent. Gifts. It’s been really nice to have people looking out for me as I travel through this grief.

One of the things that was recommended to me by the vet is to write a memoir of Blake’s life. Upon receiving this suggestion I immediately thought of two important lessons I’d already learned the hard way: first, writing has always been a balm for me. I’ve set down volume upon volume in efforts to grapple with pain in the past. Second, I know that when I am in a state of grief, I must take all advice that is given, on faith.

And that is a bit of wisdom I’d pass on to you if I can: when you are in pain, you can only gain from following advice given to you.

Even if it’s not good advice, you will gain the experience and the knowledge, and you will be actively working toward your own betterment, which is significant regardless of what it entails. Plus, when you’re in a hard emotional place it is difficult to think critically about advice given to you. You can’t trust your own valuation of such things. So, just take the advice that is given by people who care about you. Do the thing. You won’t regret it.

Now for my question to you. I decided to abstain from reading about memoirs. I have read autobiographies but never memoirs, and I am completely unfamiliar with the style. I don’t even know the form. The voice. The intent. I felt that just diving into it and trying to find what felt best to write would be the most therapeutic way to handle it. And it’s working. As memories occur, I relish my next writing session when I can set them down in the memoir.

What is your impression of writing therapeutically, and do you choose to freewrite or use an established form for this? Do you share the work? Do you even revise it?

How do you use writing as therapy?

Comment below.

6 thoughts on “How Do You Write Therapeutically?

  1. My deepest condolences for your loss of Blake. I fear the day my own little Oghren will leave us by the passing of time.

    To your question, yes. I have written in the past to aid me in coming to terms with certain situations in my life. This in turn improved my ability to reason and postulate logical conclusions that once were alien to me and thoughts. Self assistance yielded self improvement.

  2. Great comment, thanks Stuart. I find that the self-helping aspect of writing in itself makes me feel better: just the fact that I tried to do something good for myself affirms that I am in the right emotional place. And it can difference between letting a wound fester, or actively cleaning and bandaging it.

  3. I use writing as therapy to get the bad stuff out of my head, and to hopefully help others that are experiencing those same things know that they can overcome them!

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