Nanowrimo & the Therapeutic Benefits of Writing

I’ve always been a bit of a bookworm, and found a love for writing when I was about 10 years old and asked to write a short story as part of a school project. Around the same time, I also wrote a poem which would go on to be published in a local anthology four years later. Writing is a part of who I am, and while I always dreamed of becoming a published author, it certainly wasn’t something I actively focussed on. In fact, I set my sights on becoming a vet and studied the sciences at school. They say “life has a plan” though, and Life didn’t want me to be a vet.

I was bullied at secondary school to the point that I changed schools when I was 14. “Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you” was something I heard a lot and a big fat lie. Words do hurt, and they can scar. I found solace in my writing. Poetry became my outlet. It was a way for me to express my emotions, without having to physically speak. Roll forward to 2006, and life was a whirlwind. I got married, moved to the Channel Islands, got pregnant, miscarried, got pregnant again, and in 2007 had my daughter 8 weeks early by emergency C-section. To say my mental health was fragile would be an understatement, and yet again I found myself turning to poetry as a way of expressing everything I was feeling.

My daughter’s pregnancy and birth was traumatic to say the least, and I was put on bed rest as part of my recovery. I didn’t know anyone on Jersey, my daughter was still in hospital, and my husband was working 60 hours a week. My laptop became my best-friend. I found a “content mill” website, which is a website that essentially takes your work and uses it to fill other websites, paying on a “pay-per-click” basis. Through that, I discovered Nanowrimo.

Nanowrimo, or National Novel Writing Month was launched in the 1990s as a way to encourage people to finish a novel. The challenge is to write 50,000 words during the month of November. It’s grown so much that there are factions around the world, who meet up on a regular basis. It has made writing a social event. I decided to have a go at writing a novel, and at some point I wrote a God-awful murder mystery called “Murder at Meadowview”. I couldn’t get a publisher, so I went through KDP and self-published. It’s one of those books that I wish I could remove from all living memory, but sadly as is the way of the internet, it has been published and so therefore, it is around forever.

But something good did come out of it. I realised I could finish a novel. And writing a novel is just as therapeutic as poetry. Since then, I’ve taken part in Nanowrimo every single year, and every single year I’ve completed a novel. My skill as a writer has evolved, and I’ve also been lucky enough to get deals with some great publishers. You can find my erotic and contemporary romance books HERE and my urban fantasy book HERE.

Recently, I was told by a friend that I’m very good at putting on a brave face and getting on with things, even when the whole word is falling apart around me. The past eight weeks in particular have been absolutely awful for a variety of reasons. The thing is, as much as I love a chat and a gossip, and I’m happy to talk to anyone about anything (I’m not ashamed of my mental health problems), I rarely just go and tell someone. Part of my anxiety is feeling like I’m putting on other people. I’ve had cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), and talking therapy, and they were both very beneficial, but I find I get more out of writing.

At the beginning of this year, I decided to embark on a holistic journey, studying aspects of Complementary and Alternative Medicines (CAMs). Journalling is a very real therapy that was touched on when I did my own CBT and talking therapies. It’s an act of writing down your thoughts, particularly those you find difficult to talk about. It’s also a creative writing technique often used by writers during Nanowrimo, who are suffering with writer’s block. By sitting in a quiet room, perhaps with some calm music playing or incense burning, anything to get you into a meditative state, you put pen to paper and write whatever comes to mind.

For me, writing has now become a career rather than something therapeutic. I’ve completed my degree – not in science as I’d previously hoped, but in Arts & Humanities, as life intended. And while I am in a better place now, my mental health is still something I struggle with on a daily basis. Most days are good, and I can focus on writing novels for everyone to enjoy. I still get bad days though, and on those, I turn to poetry and pour my emotions into my laptop.

Poetry Written

Begin with a word, now choose another,

be the word’s mistress, don’t be its lover.

Bend it and twist it, do what you will,

out of your fingertips, let the words spill.

Find the words meaning and find it again,

snap it and crush it, and kill it and when,

you’ve found the right word that you want to use,

scratch it. Start again. Adore the abuse.

Find your beginning, a middle and end,

find some nouns and verbs and let them all blend.

Mix them all into a witch-worthy brew,

just leave them to be, and let the words stew.

Abandon your ink blots, start a new page,

unleash your dragons, your love, and your rage.

Once you are finished, you’re done and you’re through,

kill all of your darlings, then start anew.

Let the ink flow, until your pen’s run dry,

there’s nowhere to go, no tears left to cry.

Have you revealed yourself, hidden away,

seen the bleak night turn into bleak day?

Family forgot you even existed.

Are all those scrounged words, humbled and twisted?

And have you chewed off less than was bitten?

The answer’s yes. It’s poetry written.

 

Find me on social media:

Charlotte Howard:

Amazon
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram

C.V. Leigh:

Facebook
Twitter
Amazon
Instagram

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s