Every few months I have a crisis. Whether it’s an existential one or a melodramatic one, it happens nonetheless. Most people might seek professional help or prescribed medication, but talking to strangers and doping myself up with mood relaxers have never been particular interests of mine. I deal with this so-called existence of mine by writing. It might seem too simple or too easy to fix my many problems related to death, fear, failure, and loneliness, but the truth of the matter is that yes, writing is the only thing that can truly help a person deal with their demons.
For writers like my classmates and myself, writing is an unconscious activity. We could do it in our sleep and in fact, sometimes we do, but why is it that for the average person writing is considered a chore when it could prevent a depressed, stressed, or possibly even mad person deal with their problems in ways they have never even considered?
The answer is that everyone is so damn afraid to be honest, to say what they really mean. With writing, you can tell the truth, you can use words and language to state exactly what your mind wants to say. Stop writing off writing as a pedantic activity. You don’t have to be an ivy league graduate to write something intelligent, something sincere.
To paraphrase J.D. Salinger, “I’m not writing for the critics; I am writing for myself.” Whether you want to share your writing with the world or you only want to keep your writing to yourself, put your thoughts down. Go back and re-read it all. Learn from your mistakes. Go out and make new ones. Write down everything you can think of and then go write some more. It’s therapeutic and it will help you.
Writing is important and ignoring it won’t make it go away. Don’t let the man get you down and even if he does, write about it. Fill notebook after notebook with complaints, poems, stories, and desires. Release the crisis from your body before it has the chance to take you over. Whether you are feeling too much or not enough at all, purge it all onto the keyboard or through your favorite pen. I promise you’ll feel much better, if only for a few moments.
Note: This post first appeared on the University of Nebraska Omaha MFA blog. Check out their blog for posts by some of the program’s writers and professors. You can visit it here.