first post

desk from above

My Edwardian drop-leaf table well patinated

Travelling with Fingers

Creative Therapeutic Writing – Blog Number One

Expressive and Exploratory Writing

Stepping into this Blog World is just outside of my comfort zone. Yet I will follow my decision to give you a glimpse of my kind of writing.

This is personal writing: revealing and risky at times. But then that is the point. Because expressive and exploratory writing leads to reflection. And that in turn helps integration, healing and nurturing of the inner self – the core of one’s being.

Healing is a big word. Past pains can not be eradicated – but perspectives and hurts may be eased, may stop piercing the self so acutely. The metaphorical onion skins of the self may be pared back to rawness, but we can clothe, protect and provide ourselves with newer, other skins. Become a more robust human being.

My own life has been both backdrop and distillation of the book I am writing which explores my life and self in a myriad of ways, having lived a reasonably complex life over 65 years. I have tended to a thematic approach across the broad canvas of my experiences.

Each blog will include an extract from my book-writing followed by suggestions for an exercise or two. The pieces I choose will provide different practices, useful to this genre of writing and intended for three types of reader: practitioners, self-reflective writers and new-comers.

Thousands of words scribbled down have allowed poems, dramatic dialogues, short fictional pieces and prose to emerge. In fact, all literary styles. I believe there is no dividing line between what serves either creativity or therapeutic value.

One of my early readers told me:
your manuscript reads like a novel.

My most real moments are when I express myself with the written word; writing is the ballast of my living from day to day. It keeps me integrated with all the ambivalences, conflicts and confusions that life offers. Yet in the end I write from a place of heart and soul with my head in charge of content. And I keep returning to Love as the most significant underpinning and driving force of my book.

What is therapeutic writing?

Over the last twenty years, a plethora of creative writing courses up and down the country helped therapeutic writing to spread. People who came to learn about writing, whether fiction or poetry, often unearthed personal material which led to tears around the table. Teachers and workshop leaders had to learn to handle heightened emotions within these groups. Gradually a new discipline emerged which crossed both the boundaries of therapy and creativity.

Studies in America and Europe have shown how writing brings significant health and personal benefits. There are many web-sites and books showing the virtues of writing as a therapeutic tool. Or explaining how creative writing may be used for therapeutic purposes. Writing is used in this way by many practitioners in the helping professions from diverse backgrounds working in medicine and community settings.

What do we have in common as human beings?

When we own our truths and our realities we become extraordinary as individuals with our own particularities. And yet the issues to be faced in life are on the whole common to us all. I’ve chosen eight here:

* relationships
* emotions
* expression of the self
* boundaries of the self
* well-being and ill health
* spirituality
* sexuality
* dream-life and the imagination

Experimental Exploratory Exciting

This sort of writing is the most creative activity I know. I scribble a great deal, I redraft numerous times according to what I want from a piece. And finally I edit writing into form. Those are three stages of the writing process.

The fourth stage is my analysis of the processes linked to each piece; explaining why that particular writing has been helpful, healing and nurturing. I guess healing is to do with the past and nurturing the present with an eye to the future.

If your intention is to explore your own writing to go in a multiplicity of directions using your ten fingers rather than your two feet, then my intention is to give you inspiration for your own notebooks, journals, screens. Or, if like me, you invariably reach for the back of an envelope (pristine white with no stamp marks) from the recycled paper box, then that’s a great place to start.

ⓒ Monica Suswin October 2014

Read This:

Thinking About Memoir by Abigail Thomas:
Sterling Publishing: London / New York (2008)
An oblique approach with a poignant style.

Books & web-sites in the field:
See – Resources Section – About Page


One thought on “first post

  1. Before I came to one of your workshops I had covered about nine A4 pads of ‘rant’ as I went through the Menopause. And they had been valuable but the therapeutic writing which you have introduced me to is so different and much more healing. I am really looking forward to seeing what you share in your new Blog and to more workshops with you.


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