Life: On cathartic writing

typewriter-407695_640Tonight I had a random night in to myself. After spending the day waiting for parcel (that never came – I am sure there is a metaphor in there somewhere) I started to get a little restless and opened a Word document. Having a night to myself, I didn’t really have any idea why, but I suddenly felt like writing something – anything – for the sake of it.

I decided to just write whatever I felt like. I wrote about what I was doing, how I felt, and why I felt this way. I ended up writing nearly 4,000 words about my life and about how I felt. I had a few breaks, feeling a little strange – and to be honest, rather self indulgent – but by the end I felt so relaxed that it made me think about how cathartic writing can be.

I  used to write all the time. As a child I would write stories constantly, I remember at one point a teacher tried (in vain) to get me to do something else, but I wasn’t interested. My grandparents still ask to this day if I am writing stories. I am not. But I would like to. I think I had forgotten how good it feels to just write.

Studying English can do strange things to a lover of literature; it becomes so regimented that you begin to almost resent the written word. Creativity is a difficult thing to study sometimes and though I adored my degree, I felt I needed a break once it had finished. I no longer feel this way and read as much as I can again. I still have all my books from my degree and I am looking forward to reading Freud with a fresh mind and no pressure of an impending assignment.

But I digress. I feel like writing down ‘my feelings’ has helped clear my mind. It is strange that we feel writing about ourselves is somewhat selfish or hedonistic. We have to listen to our thoughts constantly; writing things down lets us purge those thoughts.

I wrote my dissertation on Jean Rhys, who was a notorious cathartic writer. In an interview with The Paris Review, she said ‘I found when I was a child that if I could put the hurt into words, it would go. It leaves a sort of melancholy behind and then it goes. I think it was Somerset Maugham who said that if you “write out” a thing… it doesn’t trouble you so much. You may be left with a vague melancholy, but at least it’s not misery – I suppose it’s like a Catholic going to confession, or like psychoanalysis’.

I  miss writing and I am glad I had this compulsion to write tonight. Even if it’s just for me. Nobody has to read it, so where is the harm?

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