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Healing Through Writing: Why We Write by Hannah Davis
"Writing is like prostitution. First you do it for love, and then for a few close friends, and finally for money" Molière
My first experience of writing was through my diary. Whatever our age diaries are a great place to sort the mind, to make sense of the world, and to discover and accept ourselves. Through my diary, I realised what Molière meant when he said we wrote for love. Writing made me feel more loving. I didn’t so much write out of love, I wrote to discover the love inside myself. It was as if writing, the stream of consciousness, outpouring of my thoughts, emotions, hopes, fears, dreams and normal everyday events, could make me feel better about myself. Writing seemed to represent a release of some kind. A release of the negative to make way for the positive. In my writing group I often set a simple exercise called "I remember" in which each person has to recall a memory, triggered by these two words, and then write about it for ten minutes. In one of my earliest group sessions this simple exercise made one of the males cry as he remembered a tragic event in his life.
Diaries are also are a great space to unearth your creativity. In my diary, I learnt to experiment with the English language. I loved the way the words fitted together. It was as if I could create magic by the mere assortment of the alphabet. It was through writing diaries I discovered I could write. And when I discovered I could write, part of me wanted to share this new trick of mine. Luckily, along came email. When I was travelling South America email represented a lifeline to the world I’d left behind. Hopping along from one internet café to another created a beat to my travels. Emails are an opportunity to write for an audience. We can be budding travel writers commentating on life in Spain, we can be comedians retelling a funny incident, we can be philosophical as we watch life unfold. We can be writers writing with someone else in mind. Revealing ourselves – our innermost thoughts, our observations, our perceptions – through our writing, is an intimate and significant turning point in our writing trajectory. We are no longer just writing for ourselves. Receiving positive feedback from friends and family boosts self-esteem and encourages budding writers to take their writing one step further. People often join my writing group because they say their friends back home love receiving their emails.
Molière finally says we write for money. This is often the next goal. Lots of people have moved to Spain in order to pursue their writing with this intent in mind. Many are writing a novel, the realisation of a long-cherished dream. A novel is a patient project, a work of art, and often the ultimate revelation of the inner self. It’s not just being written for your best friend. It’s being written for thousands. I work with many people who are writing books and my work is quite practical in that I try to give the writer skills so that they can improve the quality of their writing. It’s about the application of certain techniques to make the book more sellable. A good book realises it’s not just been written for the writer – it’s been written for the reader. And that’s the trick here. When we start writing we do write for ourselves, to discover who we are maybe, to connect with our creativity, to express ourselves. But along the journey, the writing has to turn outward. It’s the old adage; once you’ve healed yourself you can heal others.
One of the most important things about writing is to realise that writing is a journey, that we start on the inside and work our way outward. Like all things, begin with yourself first. Once you’re loved up, you can write for a few close friends, and finally, hopefully for money.