Here in the UK we have had a horrendous few weeks with the terror attacks in Manchester and London and now the heart-breaking fire in the Grenfell Tower.
If anything can be taken from this terrible waste of lives it is the stories of caring and hope we can take from the good Samaritans out there helping where they can.
Obviously our thoughts are with those closest to these tragedies but the truth is that situations like this affect all of us in some way even if we aren’t immediately connected to the people or places where an attack has happened.
Living with the threat is something we have become more used to these days and the human way is to develop a coping mechanism for that. That could be exercise, deep breathing and meditating or anything that makes you feel more in control.
Me? I write.
There is something about the therapy of writing, whatever type of writing it is, blogs, short stories, novels, poetry – it is very cathartic and can help you feel less helpless in the face of adversity.
And it’s good for you
And on top of that, writing can actually improve your well-being. OK, maybe the basis in fact for this outrageous suggestion is purely how I feel but I’m kinda hoping I’m not the only weirdo around here! (Actually, you don’t have to take just my word for it – there is an American psychologist by the name of James Pennebaker who has written a book all about how expressive writing helps people to heal when recovering from trauma and emotional upheaval – ‘Writing to Heal’.)
Whenever I feel upset or worried, well, any heightened emotion pretty much, I end up channelling it into my writing and it serves two great purposes. Firstly, it seems to calm me down and put my worries in perspective but also it can make for some pretty effective writing. But if you are writing to clear your mind of your worries there are a couple of things you should probably keep in mind:-
1) Write as if no-one will ever read it
2) Write without editing
3) Write whatever and however you like – don’t feel it has to be worthy of a JK Rowling straight off.
Why? I hear you ask
For all these points, the same reasons apply – it is important to just get down what is in your head as it occurs to you. You can change details, edit so that it makes sense (and correct any dodgy spellings and grammar) and massage it to make it better quality writing at a later date if you want to use it in your work.
But the first thing to do is just to get it on paper – as the old adage goes “You can’t edit a blank page”. Make it like a stream of consciousness to start with and the emotion and feeling will flow from you. You’ll feel better and you’ll find your writing will be a great base to build on as well as feeling better in yourself for it.
The past few weeks may have been awful, but as Winston Churchill was fond of saying KBO (that’s ‘Keep Buggering On’ for those of you who don’t know!).
So, writers, get those thoughts down on paper and let’s KBO!
Let me know if you write too to get through the bad times – if not, what is your best way of coping?