Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Writing as Therapy

One of our themes this of this month’s blog is gratitude. It’s been a tough month for some of us, maybe all of us. The contentious election of 2016 put friends against friends, and family members against each other. It has been one of my biggest distractions for the last year, and now that it’s over, I’ve decided to stop watching TV news. I haven’t since November 8th. The vacancy it left got me back to reading, binge watching TV series like Poldark, which I’m loving, and writing. It also made me think of why I started to write in the first place.

It was during a difficult time in my life. I was stressed and upset, over what doesn’t matter. We’ve all had those times; they keep popping up like a summer cold. I read a suspense novel that I thought was rather poorly written, both in execution and plot. I’m no great writing critic, but I know what I like, what keeps me riveted. This book left me thinking, for some ungodly reason, that I could do better. I’d never written anything other than silly poems or fashion copy for ads I used to draw for stores in Boston when that was my profession a lifetime ago.

I had a plot idea and started writing, having no plan, no outline. When I finished, I thought it was a pretty good story, but I knew I needed an editor. I didn’t know what I didn’t know, but at least I knew it. I found a man online, we chatted. I thought he was quite the character, and it turned out he was. I got his prices and sent him the manuscript. He emailed me after reading forty-nine pages and said the plot was great; the writing needed work.

Well, yeah, that’s why I sent it to you, I wanted to say but didn’t.

His edit was great, a primer on how to write a sentence, eliminating all the extraneous garbage. I felt like I had taken a college class.

Not to go further with the book or the editor but to the reason I started writing in the first place. Entering into a fantasy world took me out of my own world, which, as I said, was not a happy place to be at that time. My story became my other life, and I’ll always be grateful for that. I loved being someone else for those writing hours, because that’s how I did it. I became my heroine and my hero, my villain and the supporting players. I enjoyed the process so much, that I kept writing my stories after I finished that book, creating other stories, each different from the one before.

As situations always change, I got past my dark period and found a new love: writing. The book I started at that time was Threads.
Not surprisingly, it’s a dark story, but it has a moral: no matter how dark life gets, no matter if everyone else is in the sun and the rain follows every step you take, life situations do change. Though I wrote that book first, it was one of the last I published. I always felt it was unfinished, but I didn’t know why. It turned out it was the structure, because the story goes back and forth, alternating the time frame, and I couldn’t write it in a way that made sense. Finally, I thought I got it right.

Finding a passion, an outlet, is an important factor in taking charge and making whatever that passion is work for you. It could be writing, as it was for me, or music or art or acting or reading. It could be activism or volunteering or even politics. The point is to keep your mind occupied, seek out a different interest―something that challenges you. Even if you’re not in a dark period, it’s exciting to take a different path to keep you energized. Whatever you choose, do it for yourself. Learning something new is the best reward for a lazy brain.


Polly Iyer is the author of seven novels: standalones Hooked, InSight, Murder Déjà Vu, Threads, and three books in the Diana Racine Psychic Suspense series, Mind Games, Goddess of the Moon, and Backlash. A Massachusetts native, she makes her home in the beautiful Piedmont region of South Carolina. You can visit her website for more on Polly and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

17 comments :

  1. Anything we can put our mind to work on, even water colors, is great therapy. I can get lost in reading, writing, art, or just trying to teach the dog a trick. It's all about focus, isn't it? That clearing of everything else and concentrating on the task at hand. And then the time flies by...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I spent years as a commercial artist. That was never therapy because the art was always for a job. It kind of ruined the art part as a pleasure in a way. Writing has never been that way. Maybe if I had a contract and a time frame I would cease to find it as enjoyable.

      Delete
  2. This is a fabulous reminder that, at least to some extent, we control our own destiny. The choices we make to address the surprises (both good and bad) that pop up in our lives can make or break us. You've said that effectively and beautifully. And guess what -- I'm going to get a copy of Threads and read it. It's exactly what I need right now. Thank you, Polly!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Linda. I did help me through some bad times. I need it now too. I hope you enjoy the book.

      Delete
  3. I agree completely: do what you are passionate about. When asked, I always say: write if you love the work and honing your craft the way others sculpt, compose, paint, and design. If the money comes, that's a bonus. If it doesn't, you will have spent the hours in happy occupation.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think I wouldn't enjoy writing as much if I HAD to do it. Maybe that's the difference, Diana.

      Delete
  4. Great advice, Polly. As you know, I'm paralytic after the election and writing pulls me into a different world, where things make sense. Plus, I like the characters, though they may be flawed.
    Keep writing...I love your stories!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Michele. And I love your stories. Maybe that's because we get into our worlds and they become real. It's a little schizo, but so what!

      Delete
  5. After retirement (several years now) I think writing keeps me actively engaged in life and--okay--a bit younger than some of my contemporaries. Right now I have four novels in various stages of starting but I don't visit those worlds often--I'm "managing my career."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's the best part, Judy. I'm going through another dark period with my husband, and I think his decline is because he doesn't have anything to keep him engaged. An idle mind is the devil's playground.

      Delete
  6. I'm right there with you, Polly. Keeping engaged is so important. Loved Threads. Loved all of your books. Keep on writing for whatever the reason.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thank you, Kait. I can't tell you what your kind words mean to me.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I always feel so much better when in the midst of writing a story. Escaping is a great way to release stress. Thanks for the post, Polly, and best wishes to your husband.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, su. Any time we can escape into our fantasy world is a good thing. Of course it helps if we come out with a good story.

      Delete
  9. Writing is great therapy to get your mind off your troubles. It's also a way to feel in control. No one else can write exactly what you write.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly, Morgan. There aren't many things we have control of, but writing our own stories is one of them.

      Delete
  10. Writing is a great escape, something I need these days, but I'm barely in control of my stories. They take on a life of their own, but it's still a different reality. And I can slip into that other world for a while.
    Keep up the good work and tell your stories, Polly. I love them.

    ReplyDelete

The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...