They say writing is a healer, don’t they? They say it soothes the soul, that writing about the not-so-good things that have happened in life allows you to let go. It offers closure.
Except sometimes it doesn’t.
Let’s be real, some of best writing comes from hard times and you don’t have to look much further than some of the most popular works of fiction to see the evidence of that. J.K Rowling wrote Harry Potter when she was suffering from depression and created the dementors as a symbol of the horrible illness, sucking the life out of everyone in its path. Charles Dickens had a difficult battle with depression and he’s arguably one of the best writers, well, ever.
However, what if you’re a writer and are not going through bad times? What if, like me, you have gone through hard times but just don’t want to write about it? Can you not be a writer? Are you not taken as seriously as writers who write about the bad stuff?
I had a bit of a rough time towards the end of school (and now, if I’m being totally honest). I lost people I thought were friends, I heard some pretty horrible things said about me, I was made to feel like a failure and like nobody wanted to be around me and now, I absolutely hate writing about that time in my life. I just don’t want to think about it. I don’t want to relive it, not even through words on a page.
Writing about the bad times isn’t cathartic for me, it’s bloody horrible!
I don’t want to relive those days, to dig up those memories. It’s bad enough that there’s always reminders in my day-to-day life without adding reminders myself.
I don’t want to be struggling to see the computer screen as I fight back the tears that inevitably come with remembering the bad times. I don’t want to have to stop writing every few paragraphs because it’s just too much. I just don’t want that.
Don’t get me wrong, when I’m in the hard times, when I’m in the middle of a battle with my head, I love just spew my feelings onto paper. That’s cathartic. That helps me to get through it, to win the battle. Going back and trying to recreate the battle doesn’t help.
It’s over. I need to move on.
What I like to write about instead is the happy times. I write about people that make me happy, about the times when I laughed so much I felt like I was developing a six pack. I like to write about the things that I hope will happen one day, the things that I can only ever imagine but that I know will bring me joy. I like to write about love, and travel, and good people, and happiness.
What I’m trying to say is, if you’re a writer- a professional one, a hobby writer, or someone who writes a few words every few months- you don’t have to buy into this romanticised notion of the suffering writer. You don’t have to suffer to be a good writer, and you don’t have to write about your suffering to make people interested in what you write.
The only thing that matters when it comes to writing is that the writer enjoys creating it. If you enjoy writing about the bad stuff then that’s okay, if you don’t want to write about the bad stuff, then that’s okay too. You do you and let nobody tell you that your writing isn’t as good for it.
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