catharsis – #WhatImWriting

DSC_0169There are many reasons why writers write: the urge to create, to find an outlet for a headful of ideas, a desire to connect with others, to make your mark, capture a moment, to explore, invent, imagine or just because you HAVE to.

One of the most powerful writing experiences I have found though, is writing for catharsis. I don’t necessarily do this often, as I’ve been lucky enough not to need to, but when I do it honestly feels like some sort of therapy.

I definitely wrote for cathartic reasons after giving birth to my third son twenty-one months ago. Not (thankfully) that anything too terrible happened – he was born healthy and (eventually) had a natural delivery – but, man, it was such an ordeal to get there. Nine days of stop-start labour (that meant I barely slept), followed by endless hours of contractions so strong they should have prompted a baby to shoot out across the room not simply lie around wriggling contentedly!

Anyway, once my bundle of beauty had finally emerged, even though I was so happy I could have exploded with it, I still felt I had a lot to process. My births have never gone to plan despite me being convinced each time that ‘this time it will be fine!’ so I think there was a frustration there that I needed to address. So, with baby firmly attached to the milk supply (i.e me) and a never ending pile of cakes, biscuits and hot-cross buns at my elbow (I looked so terrible that everyone who visited felt the immediate urge to feed me sweet things) I set about writing about my experience.

I’ve recently read what I wrote. There’s a prose piece written when he was a week old which alternates between ‘then’ and ‘now’ quite effectively (I was trying to capture the amazing difference a week can make, so it leaps from the intensity of contractions to the peacefulness of breastfeeding in bed by the glow of a nightlight). There’s also a poem that goes through the whole labour describing it as an approaching storm that sucks me in and nearly drowns me. Powerful stuff.

I remember writing both these pieces, then reading them back and it making an immense difference to me. Like a big release of emotion that made me feel both lighter and like I had more energy. Plus I felt like I’d captured something for later. Birth is such an epic experience I’m glad I managed to store it somewhere outside of my own head, even if I never show what I’ve written to anyone.

How about you? What motivates you to write? Do you (or have you) found writing to be a cathartic experience?

Writing Bubble

18 thoughts on “catharsis – #WhatImWriting

  1. Iona@redpeffer

    I find writing incredibly cathartic-it has and does save me from endless stuff whirring around my head with nowhere for it to go otherwise. I do also feel the physical need to write too-I’m always waking up in the night and having to dig out my pen and pad or my iPhone and write something down that’s just popped into my head!

    Reply
  2. Mummy Tries

    I can empathise lovely,I had a horrendous five day labour and gory forceps delivery first time around. I wrote a piece about it earlier this year and all the memories came flooding back!

    I actually started Mummytries because 18 months ago we weren’t in a financial position for me to see a counsellor. I probably don’t even need to say how cathartic I find writing. I absolutely love it, keeps me sane xxx

    Reply
    1. Maddy Post author

      Hooray for blogging! Sorry to hear about the gory labour and I hope writing about it helped! Thanks for commenting and linking up Reneé xx

      Reply
  3. Chrissie Metcalf (Kristina)

    Yes. I write to escape, mostly. I think my first labour is on my old blog, the second was a beautiful birth. The third was horribly traumatic and although I can talk about it, I can’t write it. I’ve written the story of my pregnancy with him and stalled at the first hospital visit when I knew something was wrong.
    Reading it all back is a special feeling. X

    Reply
    1. Maddy Post author

      Yes is is special to read back. So sorry about your horrendous experience third time round – hopefully you will be able to write about it one day and it will help the healing process. xx

      Reply
  4. Nicola Young

    The only time I have written in this way is about my dad. When it is his anniversary, I always think about him and often write a post to capture my feelings. Writing like that can be so powerful because it is in the moment. Usually I end up having a good old cry and it does help!

    Reply
  5. Morgan Prince

    I have never written in this way but saying that if there was something bothering me I would write about it. I find writing incredibly therapeutic and I tend to get very uptight and agitated if I haven’t written any fiction in a while. It’s almost as if I need the escape of creating something.

    It’s great that you can look back on that experience, reading your own words as you saw it then. Great post Maddy. x

    Reply
    1. Maddy Post author

      Thanks Morgan. Writing is a great way to ‘escape’ I agree. It also leaves us with something to hang on to as well which is great! Thanks for commenting and linking up. xx

      Reply
  6. Carol Cameleon

    I absolutely write to free my mind of all the jumble floating around it at any given time! I write my pregnancy Journey for the very reason of getting it all out of my head. It’s often the pieces that are well and truly written from the heart that are my best, for me. #Whatimwriting

    Reply
    1. Maddy Post author

      I agree that there’s something about writing ‘from the heart’ that can produce something really special. Not sure mine are always my best when they’re that personal but they are the most powerful for me. Thanks for commenting and linking up, Carol. xx

      Reply
  7. Sophie Lovett

    Totally get the whole cathartic thing. I found it really powerful just writing my birth story – and I had a lovely birth, but it still helped me get my head round it all! The most cathartic writing I’ve done so far is probably in my last novel where I fictionalised some of the idiot men I wasted my time on in my twenties and morphed them into a truly nasty piece of work. There’s a scene in that novel that’s almost exactly based on true (horrible) events – of course it’s the one that no-one believes is quite realistic enough, but even if I end up editing it beyond recognition it was still worth writing it down! xx

    Reply
    1. Maddy Post author

      That’s the thing about birth I think – even if it goes entirely to plan it’s still so intense that you have to off-load the experience somewhere! I think that’s why at all new mum groups there is much sharing of birth stories! I’ve not really attempted cathartic writing in fictional form. Even MORE intrigued to read your book now! Thanks for commenting and linking to #WhatImWriting Sophie. xx

      Reply
  8. Sara (@mumturnedmom)

    I find that writing just makes me feel better. Getting words down, playing with them, being happy with the result makes me feel happier, I imagine partly because I’ve achieved something, which some days I’m not convinced I have! I wrote angst filled diaries as a teenager and they were definitely cathartic, and I would probably have been lost without them. Now, my blog is a diary of sorts, although doesn’t often stray into darker territory. On those occasions where it does, it is hugely helpful, and I find the process of writing in itself to be relaxing, which is often just what I need x

    Reply
    1. Maddy Post author

      Ah – I wrote cathartic angst-filled teenaged diaries too! (I shrivel with embarrassment at the mere thought of them… ) And you’re right, the very act of writing can feel cathartic sometimes. Thanks Sara xx

      Reply
  9. Emily Organ

    I’d say a lot of my writing is cathartic, over the years I’ve collected a whole range of uncomfortable experiences which I ‘write out’ of me in my stories. Sometimes detail is changed but essentially it’s based on something. Funnily enough I did write about my first birth as it was a truly horrible experience and writing it all down helped me deal with it (no one else has ever read it, nor would I want them to!). Thankfully my other births were very straightforward. I’d like to read about yours if you feel like sharing them at some point x

    Reply
    1. Maddy Post author

      Sorry to hear you had such an awful first birth, Emily but glad the others were better. Writing is a useful part of the healing process though I think. Hmm, perhaps I should write about my first birth – that was the quickest and probably the least painful but by far the most traumatic (go figure!). Maybe I’ll share my birth poem with you at some point if I’m brave enough. It would have to be by email though as I could never post it here!. Thanks for being interested though and the same is true of your story if you ever want to share. xx

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

CommentLuv badge