Writing as therapy

Problem? Write an Article to Harness the Subconscious

Writing is a valuable aid to analysis and planning. Writing an article as though it is to be read by an outsider forces the mind to understand and structure the issue.

I have had to face up to fact that the profitable market for my consultancy services has effectively disappeared due to austerity, and in any case I am ready for aq change. As consequence it has left me without work. I have no firm plans for my retirement which I thought was at least two years away. It now seems I am facing it now and I need to make sense of my situation.

No Vision for the Future Causing Stress

My vision of the future was confused and stressful. It remained so even after a useful meeting with a younger colleague facing the same challenge. Our discussion had not really solved the problem. I decided to write up that dilemma for my War Diaries here on this site.

Having a so-so day and with my mind in a fog I forced myself to write an article I May Have Retired But No One Has Told Me" (to appear in War Diaries shortly). It has a line I have used with friends when they ask me what I am doing these days. I thought I was just writing a slightly wry blog entry but as I came to the end I realised that I had unknowingly made sense of my dilemma. I have been a long time believer in the power of the subconscious mind to structure complex ideas and it had clearly done it for me in this case.

Analytical Power of the Subconscious Mind

I have often said about writing whether it was an article, a formal report or a proposal that there is a right time to write it. If the author tries to force it on to the page it never really produces the best work. When the subconscious has sorted everything the words will just fall on to the page. Having spoken to many consultants and other writers many have the same experience. Sometimes deadlines mean it has to be forced but even then adrenalin seems to accelerate the subconscious so at the last minute the words flow.

Writing to Trigger Therapeutic Power of the Subconscious Mind

This little story highlights the power of the subconscious mind. It is widely recognised that in depression, anxiety, stress and mood disorders that the subconscious has a role to play. Indeed most talking therapies such as cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) or hypnotherapy seek to harness the subconscious mind.

Perhaps writing should be used as an adjunct to such therapies as it forces the writer to let their mind make sense of the issues so that they can be described. Once recognised and understood the condition is much closer to resolution through treatment or therapy. Indeed as Cat Bennett identified in The Confident Creative, drawing and the creative process may be able to play much the same role. Writing however tends to require more formal structure if it is to be intelligible.

That said many great works of both art and literature came from troubled minds. Perhaps it was their way of managing their condition. It certainly feels therapeutic to me.

So, if problems are crowding in, try writing an article as though for an outsider. You do not have to publish it but write with the intention that you will choose to share it even with just trusted friends. You may be surprised how much clearer the answers and less troubling the problem may seem.



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