When you’re overwhelmed by stress or struggling with anxiety, sitting down in a comfy chair with a good book can often be as therapeutic as a visit to a counselor. For me though, writing my own story is better than reading someone else’s. I love to write: writing lets me organize my thoughts, become a better communicator, and create art all from the privacy of my bedroom or classroom.
I certainly didn’t inherit a love of writing from my parents (my mom would rather spend time in a public restroom than a library). However, they were kind enough to let me spend my Fridays at the local bookstore, where I would dart from cover to cover with childhood glee. From then on, I became interested in writing my own stories and poems. Now that I’m in high school, I enjoy entering essay contests, and I also participate in the school newspaper and literary magazine. To this day, I still keep a small red Moleskine in my backpack for those moments when I get inspiration for a new story or stanza.
Short stories are my favorite forms of writing. They let you tell a complete story, with a beginning, middle, and end, without having to spend months on the plot. In my English classes, I’ve had to learn about different storytelling styles and the other complicated parts of writing. However, there’s nothing wrong with just sitting down and writing down a story as if you were telling it to someone over a cup of coffee. Great writing can be complicated and ornate, but it can also be plain and simple. For inspiration, I enjoy reading stories by Ernest Hemingway, who writes very simply and to the point. Or, as he put it, “my aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way.”
I also keep a journal of my feelings and emotions. Journaling is a great way to keep track of mood swings and vent your frustrations in a safe way. In fact, an article from the journal Advances in Psychiatric Treatment explains that expressive writing, where a person writes about stressful or traumatic experiences that have happened to them, has been shown to reduce stress levels and even correlates with a healthier liver. In other words, writing isn’t just good for you from an armchair philosopher’s point of view. It helps you both physically and mentally.
Also, in the spirit of enlightened attempts to document my experience, I’m going to be blogging about my adventures in novel-writing this November as part of National Novel Writing Month. Stay tuned for some posts about getting creative, channeling thoughts, and learning how to vent (safely)!