Writing As A Coping Mechanism: Processing Emotions Through Fiction
Have you ever written something that you never planned on publishing? I start most of my articles this way. Sometimes I even start a novel that I have no intention of publishing because the real-life events I wrote about are too recognizable. I worry the people involved might realize I was writing about them.
Why would anyone write something with no intention of publishing it?
For one, it takes the pressure off and allows creativity to flow. Think about journaling. People write down their thoughts and feelings and lock them up, hoping no one ever reads them without permission. It’s a record for us to revisit all our painful and joyous times whenever we want.
Yes, most of my fiction has elements of truth, some more than others. Still, there is a reason I don’t journal as much as I write fiction. When I am journaling, there isn’t enough distance between me and myself.
What do I mean by “not enough distance between me and myself”?
When I am journaling, I write about events without any feeling. It’s too close, too dangerous, to explore these personal emotions from my point of view.
With fiction, if things get too close, I can change something about the character, so they aren’t exactly like me. Then end the scene, or jump to another character’s point of view. I can examine and let go of my feelings within a similar situation. Doing this allows me to feel the emotions without the intensity and vulnerability of journaling. Writing fiction is like letting the air out of a pressure cooker.
If journaling feels too personal, stilted, awkward, or dangerously close, fiction might be your solution.
Writing is an almost-daily practice for me. If I don’t write, everything feels off kilter and I get irritable. Some fiction is a little closer to the truth than others, but whether I’m writing in a speculative, paranormal, or a contemporary setting I’m examining, exploring, and processing my emotions in a healthy way. I write for at least 30 minutes every day, depending on what I need that day.
Writing is a coping mechanism anyone can use. If journaling feels too personal, stilted, awkward, or dangerously close, fiction might be your solution. Bottling emotions rarely ends well. Give your emotions an escape route through writing.