Before I was a journalist, I was a creative writer. Short stories and poetry. A barrage of unfinished novels.
I remember the first story I ever wrote. I was 7 years old, and it was about a group of aliens that came to Earth and befriended a girl. She named them all after food items. The one I remember most was Butter.
The first poem I wrote was about the garbage truck man, how he picked up our trash. “Garbage truck man, oh garbage truck man …” Give me a break; I was 5, or something.
My first love in life was dance. My second was writing–creative writing. That second love stuck around to become my profession. While I enjoy writing people’s stories, and occasionally aspects of my own, something about unfiltered creative writing really speaks to me. I truly love it.
Here are four reasons why.
1) Creative Writing is Therapy
And it’s way cheaper, too. While I always advocate for finding a solid therapist (if you think you don’t need one, you probably do), creative writing has been unofficial therapy for me since childhood.
I always wrote my heart out and felt better afterwards. As an adult, I now peruse my older writings from grade school, middle school, and high school. I realize I was often writing about my deepest fears, insecurities, and feelings as metaphors via the actions and thoughts of fictional characters. Creative writing became an outlet for my subconscious, and I believe in many ways, it still is.
2) Creative Writing is an Escape
Let’s face it: at times, reality sucks. But when I’m lost in the world I created in my head–writing the next chapters, then sharing my story with others–I forget about the realities around me. It’s a dopamine rush.
Perhaps some might call what I do disassociation. Maybe they’re right. In that case, disassociation via creative writing created a buffer between me and the torturing effects of bullies growing up–getting chased into bathrooms, hairspray dumped on my head, laughs and whispers and name-calling and threats of physical violence.
As an adult, I sometimes have trust issues with groups of women because of those experiences, but it ends there. Because I escaped into my stories.
3) Creative Writing Creates Community
Whether it’s online, a readership, a writing program, or a professional collaboration, the mere act of creative writing draws community around it. I sometimes struggle to talk about the things that are me when I meet people, but I can talk about writing for hours. I bond with others over writing craft, storytelling, and the writing life.
One of my favorite feelings in the world is writing a story, publishing it to the world, and then engaging with readers about the story. When they get carried away as much as me, we share that experience together. They can then share that experience with others, and it just grows.
Think of all the communities that exist because of creative writing: book clubs, writing workshops, group therapy through poetry. When people bond over a shared interest or story, they are less likely to fight one another. Which leads me to my final point:
4) Creative Writing Heals
I always say that storytelling is the great human connector. Before the written word, we used to pass stories down verbally from one generation to the next. Because stories are the great connectors, they also have enormous power to generate empathy, and ultimately, healing.
A 2020 article from Discover Magazine reported that a growing body of research suggests “people who read fiction tend to better understand and share in the feelings of others — even those who are different from themselves.”
If we are more likely to connect with and understand others, we are less likely to engage in violence and hate against them. Therefore, creative writing has the ability to heal entire communities. Not to mention, the mere act of creative writing can help a person heal individually, as well.
WHAT ABOUT YOU? If you are a writer, what do you love about creative writing? Please feel free to comment below.
Hi! I’m Shari. I’ve worked for more than 15 years as a professional writer, editor, and communications consultant. Follow my blog for more posts on writing, craft, how to make a living writing, and how to build your following as a writer.