Inspiration: Writing as Medicine…
“Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose or paint can manage to escape the madness, melancholia, the panic and fear which is inherent in a human situation.” Graham Greene
“When life gives you lemons, do you make lemonade, or do you rub the fruit in your wounds? … Since trying to “think” myself out of uncomfortable, dark feelings is an invitation to fall further down the rabbit-hole, I’ve invested myself in a mood-altering writing exercise.” Robyn, Happiness Engineer, WP/DP
Recently, I went searching for the old Daily Post Writing Challenge thread and couldn’t find it. Instead, I came across a beautiful post written by Robyn: Rx: Writing as Medicine. Her insights struck a chord and, like many others, I left a comment about how much writing means to me. As a child, I spent many hours in my Dad’s Study reading and inventing stories. I wrote both serious and nonsensical little pieces, and found writing both therapeutic and fulfilling. While my writing life has waxed and waned, I’ve always returned to it because writing is a form of medicine to me too and that motivates me to write more.
When I write, I escape the daily grind of the mundane world and enter a magical world far from my current conditions. Writing calms and focuses my mind to finish the task at hand, and each piece is a birthing of new life with its share of strengths and weaknesses. It connects me with others and to myself. Yeah, It’s a life lifter for me and brings clarity to my thoughts. What motivates you to write? What would I do if I could no longer express myself? What would you do if you couldn’t express yourself? It’s worth pondering…
“The most difficult and complicated part of the writing process is the beginning.” A. B. Yehoshua
Motivations for writing include publication, storytelling, correspondence and diary. Writing has been instrumental in keeping history, dissemination of knowledge through the media and the formation of legal systems.Wikipedia
Before the written word, we had forms of proto-writing which were not easily transcribed because they lacked words or codes. According to historic records, the neolithic writing from Early Bronze Age, Sumerian archaic (pre-cuneiform) writing and Egyptian hieroglyphs are our earliest true writing systems. Writing as we know it today, started with the Cuneiform script which was in print around the 4th millennium BCE in Sumer, Mesopotamia, and continued through other forms of writing that make up the major writing systems: logographic, syllabic, alphabetic, and featural. Chinese and other languages that use characters are created with logograms and syllabic forms, while Sign Writing is a classic form of Featural writing.
The modern Alphabet is a derivative of the first phonemic form – Phoenician script – and it is considered the ancestor of Arabic, Greek, Latin, Cyrillic and Hebrew. Two more systems: ideographic and pictographic are made up of symbols and are not fully included as languages. Even though the original prompting to communicate in the written word came through commerce and industry, today, we also use writing to uplift, report, connect, elevate and denigrate others. Writing can be therapeutic in that it gives us space to express our thoughts and feelings, and it can be used to help others understand data and vital information. How and why we choose to write is entirely up to us but it is worth thinking about.
“It is our choices… that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” J. K. Rowling
“Writing means sharing. It’s part of the human condition to want to share things – thoughts, ideas, opinions.” Paulo Coelho
Whether we write for work, school or pleasure, it helps to maintain some perspective about the process and remember that our words can/do make a difference to SOMEONE! We can choose how to respond to a topic that engages our interest by creating our vision through it. We can make our stories as fantastic or concrete as we wish. If writing is a utilitarian exercise for you, so be it. Communication is community building and that is why it is important that we reflect on what and why we write. I invite you to make time to create something different that feeds and fuels your juices. It doesn’t matter if your stories are somber or soaring, write it. Whose life is perfect anyway? Below is a story (author unknown) to lift your spirits and help you dig deep for that creative muse and make a decisive choice to get writing.
The Pregnant Deer – Author Unknown
In a forest, a pregnant deer is about to give birth. She finds a remote grassy field near a strong-flowing river. This seems a safe place. Suddenly labor pains begin. At the same moment, dark clouds gather around above and lightning starts a forest fire. She looks to her left and sees a hunter with his bow extended, pointing at her. To her right, she spots a hungry lion approaching her. What can the pregnant deer do? She is in labor! What will happen? Will the deer survive? Will she give birth to a fawn? Will the fawn survive? Or will everything be burnt by the forest fire? Will she perish by the hunter’s arrow? Will she die a horrible death at the hands of the hungry lion approaching her? She is constrained by the fire on one side, by the flowing river on the other, and boxed in by her natural predators. What does she do? What choice will she make? She focuses on giving birth to a new life.
“All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.” F. Scott Fitzgerald
The most important thing is to read as much as you can, like I did. It will give you an understanding of what makes good writing and it will enlarge your vocabulary. J. K. Rowling
We live in a world where reading seems to be lacking in many circles. I don’t know if I should blame the internet or view it as just a shift in the way we function in society. Why are we reading less? Perhaps, our access to instant gratification through the mass media, ( internet, social media and a zillion forms of interruptions), has made us less inclined to read. While the book publishing world looks for new avenues to encourage us to read, we must make great effort to encourage our kids, our friends and our families to READ. The more we read, the more we cultivate ideas that help us write, invent, and share knowledge. Reading remains a fundamental tool for any kind of writing. Use it well. The rest of the story is below. What is the message? What does it say to YOU?
The Pregnant Deer – Author Unknown Cont’d As the pregnant deer gives birth, the following sequence of events unfold: Lightning strikes and blinds the hunter. He releases the arrow which zips past the deer and strikes the hungry lion. It starts to rain heavily, and the forest fire is slowly doused by the rain. The deer gives birth to a healthy fawn. This time, all ends well for her. In our life too, there are moments of choice when we are confronted on all sides with negative thoughts and possibilities. Some thoughts are so powerful that they overcome and overwhelm us. Maybe we can learn from the deer. The priority of the deer, in that given moment, was simply to give birth to a baby. The rest was not in her hands and any action or reaction that changed her focus would have likely resulted in death or disaster. Ask yourself: Where is your focus? What inspires your writing? What gives you hope and faith? Go WRITE it!
This post was inspired by a WordPress Daily Prompt Rx: Writing as Medicine For this week’s writing exercise, give it a go. You can set your alarm for whatever amount of time works for you. A short, concise period suits me best, but you’ll find your own balance. Would you rather tell your story in photos? In poetry or song? The possibilities are truly endless. Please let me know if and how you adapt the exercise, and how it impacts you. Thank you Robyn!
Positive Motivation Tip: Writing can be used in many ways to help, heal, educate, inspire, deviate, denigrate and even motivate. Choose your form and purpose with care. Go to it!
PHOTO CREDITS/ATTRIBUTIONS: All Photos : Orbis Erudite, Fountain Pen, Sign handshakes, Trilingual inscription from John Hill, Category: Writing In Art, Writing, and Category: People Writing Deer and Fawn, all via Wikipedia