Using Writing to get through Bad Head Days – Part Two

by limebirdamber

For those who missed the first half, these posts are about using writing to get through bad head days. Those days you can’t force yourself to move, because your thoughts are too heavy. The first post was about keeping a journal. This one is going to remind you it’s ok to use your real conflict in your fictional narrative. Letting the emotions out in a safe way may lead to a better sense of ‘alrightness’.

So, you’ve have a really rough day. Your inner voice is being derogatory, you can’t stop thinking about the stupid mistake you think you made, AND on top of all of that, you aren’t sure if you can make it through to tomorrow because of whatever else is going on. What do you do to get that thought away? Dwelling on it won’t help you. Writing some conflict of that sort into your work or writing a short story may be enough to get through the immediate crisis.

amber

Unconsciously, we insert ourselves into our characters. Bias, emotions – it’s all in there. The act of doing it deliberately is a completely different beast though. So let’s go back to that bad memory of the day, or one from a while ago; even if you know it’s insignificant, it still hurts you. So, we need to deal with it. We want the alrightness back, after all. Turn yourself into a character, with every flaw you think you have, and let him or her deal with it in lieu of you. Work through the situation in as many different positions and views as you need to.

I recently did this, and the memories hurt much less. They barely hurt at all. I will definitely do this again with the other painful memories.

Writing short stories seems to be very effective in my experience. I took the things making my depression worse and made a character go through it too. I made it greater than what I’d gone through. I let her make a choice, and saw it was one I never wanted to make.

Writing it out is therapeutic. Any writing can be therapeutic if you let it.

Do you want to yell, fight, curse; but can’t? You, as your avatar in your story, can! Your character fights the dragon for you. You reap the benefits.

Even possible having it published benefits.

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30 Comments to “Using Writing to get through Bad Head Days – Part Two”

  1. Very smart. I’m going to use this idea!!

  2. Amber, I’m always so impressed by your openness and honesty.

    This strikes me as being a great exercise not just for dealing with a person’s own inner demons, but for helping them to see things from other peoples’ perspectives as well. For example say someone does something that really upsets you – it would be very therapeutic to write a story a character based on their perspective rather than your own.

    Great post!

    • Oh wow, that’s a good idea! I think it would be just as helpful. I’m going to steal this to deal with some more things 🙂

      I try to be open, what’s the point hiding anything at least online. 🙂 It’s me, and this is something many people deal with daily. Advice is always helpful. 🙂

      • Good advice* ._. Bad advice is a bad idea. 😛

      • I have just done that! A lot of the character of Talatu is roughly based on my stepson, the not sleeping, the not getting involved in class (the inability to see that we really mean it when we say we are doing something because we feel that it is best for him…) and I tried to think how he would feel when I was putting words in Talatu’s mouth.

        Thankfully, now that he has left school, a lot of that side of him has changed (and I have great hopes for him during his 3 months as a counsellor at an US summer camp). I’m just glad that it didn’t take being kidnapped by aliens to change him!

      • Haha, hopefully we can all learn without having to be kidnapped! It’s great to use the people we meet/know/family as a source for inspiration. I think I’ve used my family for a lot of things over the years. I know in particular in my first serious novel attempt many mother-characters were based on my thoughts of my own.

  3. Writing as therapy has definite benefits for mental health (at least mine). It doesn’t always make for great reading! I find poetry is the most effective, as it forces me to be so specific. Great post. Thanks. Cathy x

    • I have ideas for poems, and then I don’t sit down and write them. I need to. 🙂 Thanks Cathy. 🙂 It may be better reading than you think because so many people can relate. 🙂

    • Definitely agree that poetry is very effective here.

      After my break-up with my former partner I wrote a lot of very personal poetry (that’s an understatement). It was far too angry (and quite a few too many swear words) to make it into my collection; but it did me good!

  4. Thanks for this post. I’ve been going through some stuff in the past few weeks, and I’ve had trouble keeping focus, writing my short stories, or even blog posts. I don’t like using my blog as a place for venting of personal matters, so I haven’t been, and for some reason that felt restrictive. I don’t know why I didn’t think of the simple solution of just writing it all down somewhere, for my eyes.

    • I imagine it would feel restrictive. Why do you avoid it? I don’t think it hurts anything, that’s my opinion. I understand wanting to keep things separate at the same time though. It adds another dimension to what you can talk to people about. It brings a different sort of follower, too.

      Go ahead and write just for you eyes though! Whatever you feel is best, Kayo. 🙂

  5. I love this advice. I always notice that when I write characters they are all like me, in some aspect. Be it a 5 year old wizard fighting his dad or a young woman fighting demons, they are all pretty much me.

    • I agree. And the ‘me’ can take different forms.

      I remember a movie, can’t remember what it’s called. An author adopts a boy who says he’s a martian. The author is doing an interview at one point and the interviewer asks, “Who are you in the book?”

      “I’m the monster.”

  6. I love this! I’ve been going through similar feelings lately, and knowing I’m not alone is good to hear.

  7. Great advice, Amber. I unwittingly did this with the main character of my novel, and after about the seventy-forty-second draft I realized the character had helped me overcome a major crisis in my life. Of course, my character was dead in the water through all I put her through (which really didn’t apply to the main plot), and I had to completely revive her with new events/conflicts/choices. But what was more important was my spritual growth, and I completely credit writing for that.

  8. Sometimes I look at my books and realize how much was me working stuff out in another way. It’s amazing how much of the bad stuff in life makes for great fiction. 🙂 Great post!

  9. Love this post Amber! It’s such good advice. Like I mentioned in part one, I’m definitely going to do this, I think it will be really helpful for me! Thank you.

  10. This was a good read, and true on so many levels. When we write out the problems in our characters we not only show ourselves a way through the anger but also inventive ways to handle the problem. Well done 🙂

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