Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Writing Therapy

I started to write in my youth mainly due to a psychological urge. It was an urge to settle thoughts, de-stress and achieve some sort of psychological benefit. Numerous articles state that writing provides psychological benefits like reduce stress and strengthen immune systems. I had stumbled into this avenue because I felt early on the advantage it gave to my mental and emotional state. I guess it was also an outcrop of my reading as I love to read. So I guess it was a love for words that drove me to write; the love of a perfect sentence or paragraph and the ability to achieve that perfection.

But since it was due to the psychological benefit, the main subject was me although some passages would contain ideas, concepts and observations. But it revolved on my experiences and the writing that came out to achieve some psychosomatic profit. So there was really no real formality in creating a writing career or a real discipline. Just some romantic notion to be a writer derived from reading Hemingway and fed by introspective and self-centered journal reflections. So journal writing had proceeded not as a writing exercise (which later become one via blogging) but as therapy.

Recent events seem to have changed this natural urge. Firstly, the move to a more stable and perhaps less stressful environment, completing about 34 years of journal writing, 3 years of blogging experience and reaching the age of 46 have resulted in a psychological stability or equilibrium. Perhaps one has reached an age where being self-centered no longer matters. Of perhaps the realization of one’s mortality and the stability of thinking which age and experience can bring. Hence, if the original urge to write is gone, one now moves towards a new goal of writing. Not exclusively to fulfill a psychological urge but to be a real writer for monetary end.

I guess now is the chance to look back and analyze the situation. Some books say that one should know how one learns. Based on experience, I learn via sight or via symbolic or abstract language through reading and writing. Now I am moving towards a method of learning via sound or by listening to audio books and by speaking via Toastmaster. It’s not my natural learning method but I think I need to progress here to be a better writer. Some writers say that one should read literary works, to know intimately the sounds, cadences and rhythms of speech in prose and poetry. Some writers achieve a lyrical quality in their language; writers like Walt Whitman, Dylan Thomas and Ernest Hemingway come to mind.

An important ingredient to being a writer is not actually the writing experience but the reading experience. The question now is that instead of reading one is listening to an audio book. So one is moving away from the sense of sight learning (via reading and writing) and towards the sense of sound (via listening and speaking). Different parts of the brain are engaged and involve other parties (i.e. the speaker and audience) so it’s no longer a solitary experience but one where one is engaged with another. Also, writing a blog is no longer an introspective act but towards a public audience.

Other new developments are also significant such as writing tools like Novel Writer and yWriter. Also new technology like Dragon Speaking that can translate your dictation to text. All these developments are positive and can help one become a better writer. But the key in using these tools is to move away from the natural urge to achieve psychological gain and to write away from one’s self centeredness using techniques like clustering, the snowflake method, dictation and yWriter (by writing scenes). This requires the removal from one’s psychological need towards the childish, self obsession of journal writing. It’s the direction one must go in order to fashion a writing discipline.

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