I can kill people in stories.
THIS IS FROWNED UPON IN REAL LIFE.
Understandably. Killing is wrong. It's mean. It's despicable.
But writers have the best therapy tool at their personal disposal: We can take out our angst on fictional people, no one really dies, and no one goes to jail. :)
This means that if you tend toward hissy fits or days of pouting, writing can be cost-free and beneficial for you.
There are multiple ways to look at Writing Therapy:
Self-interest: We kill off or make the life/lives miserable of people we model after real people... I will admit that I've used this tool from time to time, not to be vindictive, but it does have a healing effect when you take those irritating or frustrating traits in people and use them in fictional characters to move a story along or set a scene or plot. I've also used this to set character arcs for Really Nice People, too! And that helps to make characters relatable and believable.
Good of Mankind: Sometimes good must triumph over evil and that means the bad guy or girl must die or be arrested or thrown into a dungeon. :) To have good triumph over evil is an age-old plot device we all love and it works. Sometimes we try to re-invent the wheel... but the wheel is already functional, so then it becomes our take on what needs to happen in the story and how far we let the evil go. That's a tough line to draw, and that's when good editing comes in handy because while the author may think the perpetrator needs a beat-down, the editor may see from the reader's point of view that less is more.
Healing Waters: A lot of authors are introverts. (Disclaimer: I am not an introvert. I'm not even sure why people are introverts, because I actually like people and relish chaos and enjoy interaction, but the fact remains that authors like me seem to be more of an exception, but just so you know, I do have feelings now and again... although I am sometimes the most insensitive person on the planet. Although a good commercial might make me cry! :) Dichotomy, much?)
Introverts can find healing therapy in their story-telling art. They can affect the lives of fictional characters, which in turn can inspire real people, all done with a keyboard. This isn't a bad thing, it's a very good thing. Emily Dickinson is a classic example. Unfortunately, she didn't have the joy of acceptance and recognition in her time, and that can be the downfall/outcome of hiding in an upstairs room. (insert wry grimace here) Still, the quietness of writing a story can be therapeutic for the introverts among us!
Getting Even Is Wrong, Wrong, Wrong: Unless it's in a book!
We have free license to make people pay for their mistakes and/or bring them to restitution or redemption. Both can work, both can have an effect of satisfaction for the reader, but it is important for the author's choice to fit the narrative. That means you have to make it plausible from the beginning that if you're saving a character from him or herself, it makes sense... and if you're making them pay for their evil deeds, your timing is essential. The buildup has to be there. But in the end the writer's satisfaction with getting even fictionally is absolutely appropriate and carries NO JAIL TERM!! :)
You Can Prove Your Point Systematically:
Now this is a different kind of self-therapy.
You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink.
We've all heard this. We all understand the meaning. The horse needs water to live, horse won't drink despite best efforts, horse dies.
How Sad!!!!! But totally the horse's fault. I'm reminded of the old "I sent you two boats and a helicopter" joke, but I'll stay mum on that. As authors we can mentor, advise, counsel and chat with people about writing, life, faith, family, friends... but in the end the choices are firmly in the other author's hands. That means if you fail, it's not systemic failure. It's your failure.
If you take time off, it's your choice... and your time.
If you stop writing after book one because no one bought it (I was a dozen books in before my first sale...) then maybe this isn't the job for you. Is that mean?
It's honest, so the writing as therapy idea only works if you're writing and it doesn't cause you more angst in your personal life. I am often amazed at the things people post on social media about their writing job, their books, their lack of opportunity, all of which are pretty much the same across the board.
It's only therapeutic if you love it and if you keep doing it. But I will tell you honestly, after watching a lot of authors hit the wall after being contracted, it's not for everyone and there is no shame in that.
In the end, it's all up to you, the author, to do what it takes. Maybe to have what it takes.
But if you do it and stick with it, the self-healing therapy is right there and I promise you: It's way cheaper than some of the more traditional kinds and might even make you some money.
AND.... speaking of wonderful stories, here's a great story just released from Love Inspired Books, with a 4.9/5 rating on Amazon, my third Golden Grove story "Finding Her Christmas Family".... Available nationwide and I'm giving away two copies here in Seekerville! LINK TO AMAZON HERE
Leave a comment below... it can be about therapy, about great stories, about your latest escapade with a cute puppy.... I'm opening the conversation up to a simple back-and-forth chat because sometimes that's the best story starter! And I'll put your name in the drawing!
Multi-published, bestselling author Ruth Logan Herne loves God, her family, friends, her country, dogs, Diet Mt. Dew, coffee, chocolate, and freedom... and kids. :) In her other life she owns a pumpkin farm in Western New York so is often seen baking, selling, laughing and meeting people throughout September and October every year, a job she also loves! Write her at email@example.com, find all of her sixty-plus novels and novellas on Amazon.com, visit her website ruthloganherne.com or visit with her here in Seekerville or Thursdays at yankeebellecafe.blogspot.com where she talks life, love and food... and crazy house projects from time to time.