When I first started writing, back in high school, I kept a journal. The journal, in addition to getting me writing on a regular basis, was also a form of therapy -- a way to let out the stresses of the day. And while it may not seem like a 17-year old has many stresses -- aside from the standard soap opera fare of my love life, such as it was -- there were things that pissed me off or scared me or were unpleasant. And those pages are filled with a record of those events.
These days I am more mature and vent stresses in other ways but writing is still a form of therapy depending on what I'm writing. How could it not be? I draw from my personal experience and often relive moments and situations that were stressful.
In fact, I find myself writing short stories about my younger life focusing on events that are black and painful to me. I suppose I am exorcising the demons I've carried for years, but I'm finding that art does not always imitate life exactly. I make adjustments to make the story work better.
This is nothing new, of course. Writers have been drawn scenes and characters from their lives as far back as Charles Dickens and possibly farther than that. It is believed that Shakespeare channeled his madness and angst at the loss of a child into Hamlet and King Lear.
More importantly, all art has a therapeutic effect. The whole notion of catharsis in Greek tragedies is based on this idea. Art helps us purge our demons and wrestle them to the ground, it helps us understand them and expose them to the light of day in the hopes of dispelling them like shadows before a flashlight.
Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn't. So far for me I writing about my demons is seems to be a form of absolution but I can't be sure. I seems the more I write the more demons demand a voice. Good thing I keep a notebook.
Keep writing everyone.