Six months ago I was in a serious automobile accident and took an expensive helicopter ride. One injury I sustained was a separated AC joint, which affected the movement of my shoulder and arm.
When you limit the use of an arm, it affects the muscles. At one point the doctor recommended physical therapy to help strengthen the injury. I didn’t know it would be writing therapy too.
Some of the exercises the physical therapist assigned challenged me more than others. One day he instructed me to do pushups against the wall.
They said it was okay to do this exercise, even though it hurt. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not afraid of pain. But there was a strange clicking in my shoulder and I needed reassurance that I wasn’t going to injure myself further.
After a detailed explanation of my injury and why I could work through this, the therapist said to me, “You’re okay. You can do anything you choose to with that arm.”
I have to admit I was angry that day. I wanted it to be easier and not hurt so much. But despite that, I did the exercises. Over the next few weeks my arm became stronger. As I worked the muscles they stopped hurting so much.
It occurred me that this is similar to my writing process.
Sometimes it hurts.
I complain more than is productive.
Too often scenes don’t click in my stories on the first try. I write something amazing, only to read it the next day and realize it stinks.
But daily writing exercise makes us stronger. It’s therapy that helps us achieve our goals as a writer. We work and rework a novel until it portrays the story that will touch the reader.
We attend writing conferences where we learn everything we are doing wrong. And right.
This is writing therapy.
Our critique groups point out our weaknesses and sometimes we leave wanting to cry.
This is also writing therapy.
You hit a brick wall in the plot and brainstorm through it or go for a walk (with no electronic devices to distract you, of course).
Even this can be writing therapy
Sometimes. But it’s worth the pain when the novel comes together.
It reminds me of a sweatshirt my daughter used to wear when she was on the swim team, “Pain is temporary. Pride is forever.”
Remember this when you come to those bumps in the writing road.
What do you use for writing therapy? What keeps you going when you’d rather do something else?