C h a z z W r i t e s . c o m

Write and publish with love and fury.

Writers: Is writing therapy for you?

Reverend Billy from The Church of Life After S...

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Writing can be therapeutic. You can get some etheric vengeance, exorcise your demons and find peaceful transcendence.

But I don’t think your therapy should show. If you stray into telling the reader how to feel, your writing experience intrudes into their reading experience.

Don’t do that, please.

What writing teachers don’t say is, “Not getting preachy is really hard.” For instance, in my WIP, I touch on issues around censorship. In fact, I’ve noticed my penchant for not just touching on the issue, but hammering on it.

How do you know you’re hammering your personal issue too hard? Overexplaining irritates readers. Making two characters argue and leaving the opposing side too weak is another sign. Look for when the action stops and restart it. For instance, when your protagonist slips into a monologue that goes on uninterrupted, he’s at the pulpit and you’re losing readers.

You can still have a point of view, of course. Just lay out facts. Let your readers decide. Slip the facts amongst the action of the story. Don’t lay it all out at once. Instead of pontificating, let arguments percolate through the story.

Orwell’s 1984, for instance, shows the horror of the all-controlling state. Orwell doesn’t tell you it’s awful and list why. He shows cages full of rats. Chuck Palahniuk‘s style is another good example. He doesn’t tell the reader how to feel. Non-judgmental writing yields effective results.

Don’t write from your therapist’s couch. The benefits you get from writing may be every bit as personal and profound as a therapy session from In Treatment, but if you’re writing for an audience, please let your readers find their own therapy.  In Finding Forrester, Sean Connery says, “You write the first draft with your heart and the next with your head.” 

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