Like everyone, I have my share of crap to deal with. Some of it’s easy but annoying everyday stuff (I’m looking at you, car who abandoned me on the side of the road), while some of it is the tough stuff like grief, anger, depression, and anxiety. We all have junk that happens in our lives that makes us wonder sometimes why we even get out of bed every morning.
But here’s a secret: Writer’s have a superpower for dealing with life’s crap that a lot of people don’t have. Writing!
Writing offers a lot of tools for dealing with the crap that gets slung in your direction.
First of all, writing gives you a way to process your feelings. Whether you express yourself through journal entries or poetry, writing lets you work through stuff at your own pace and in your own way. You can run through all the, “What if’s?” and, “Could’ve, should’ve and would’ve’s,” without annoying people close to you. You can scream and swear and offend no one. And it’s cheaper than therapy.
Even writing you do for monetary gain can give you an outlet. The main character in your novel can find her way through troubles similar to yours with aplomb and panache, and you can follow her lead. You can write articles or memoirs on working through grief, depression, or other feelings. Writing is simply a great tool for processing life’s ugliness. (And beauty, but we’re writing about crap here.)
Second, you can take all your troubles and make them work for you, instead of against you. That boss you can’t stand? Make him the villain of your next book and then have your hero kill him off. The plumber that pissed you off because he didn’t do the job right? Write a piece on what to look for when hiring plumbers and sell it to a magazine. Maybe you can take your grief and use it to write something that helps others deal with their own pain. Didn’t get to say goodbye to someone before they died? Give your main character the words you would have said. Whatever the problem, you can probably find a way to either work it into a book, an article, a comic, or a blog post. You might as well get paid when the poop hits the fan.
Third, writing itself is meditative. I find that the act of sitting down and entering the mind-state necessary to turn out an article or chapter calms me down. For an extra boost, I’ll handwrite for a while to really let my brain relax. Some days it’s harder to get there than others. Some days that calm state seems about a hundred miles away. But I find that if I force myself to try, I can usually get away from the crap for a while. There’s something to be said for escaping the real world to play with your imaginary friends, or write about far away places. Or at least think about something other than your $%&! for a while.
We writers are luckier than most. We’re good with words and have no trouble expressing ourselves (at least on paper), so we’re already ahead of a lot of people when it comes to dealing with life’s ups and downs. What we take for granted, many people find incredibly difficult. That we also have the ability to channel our thoughts and feelings into work that can help not only ourselves but others is a gift.
Life is always going to be full of $%&*, but as a writer you can jump into the phone booth and come out wearing your superhero suit, ready to deal with it.