Today I finished making the final edits to the book I’ve been working on for the past six years. (Hard to believe it’s been that long!) When I started writing, my story was about all the ups and downs of trying to get pregnant, and although I say it myself, it was pretty funny. Of course, as my personal story kept growing, the book kept growing and growing, and getting less and less funny, until finally I couldn’t bear to write any more. I put the whole thing down for more than two years.
Eventually, I got to the place in my head where I was ready to tackle it again. I tossed out the entire original manuscript and started over from page one. Talk about a therapeutic cleansing. Now it’s done and I’m really pleased with the story I’ve been able to tell. But here’s something interesting: writing the story was a form of therapy for me. I relived every moment and sometimes it was painful. OK, a lot of times it was painful. But when I started editing, that changed. With every edit, I became less and less attached to the story. As I moved from the creative process of writing to the more analytical process of editing I gained distance from the story, until I was finally able to read the entire thing with almost no emotional connection.
I believe that writing the book has really helped accelerate my healing process. I can now look at my experience objectively and understand it, even see what I’ve learned and how I’ve grown from it. Suddenly that experience is not just something terrible that happened; it’s not something valuable. That’s something I never expected to happen.
Have you experienced the therapeutic benefits of writing or some other creative outlet? What worked for you and how has it helped? I’m a believer in creative therapy now. Are you?