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Writing as Therapy

When my youngest son was two months old, I would drop my eldest at nursery and push the pram to the local supermarket. By the time I got there, the baby had fallen asleep and I would sit in the café with a coffee (sometimes cake too) and write. 

I was working on the novel I started before he was born. This felt ‘safe’ because the characters were familiar to me. I told myself all I needed to do was write a page a day. If I wrote more, great. If I only wrote one page, that was great too. 

I often tweeted about my writing experiences afterwards and it was lovely to receive positive feedback from the writing community. It took a couple of months to finish that first draft, but I felt a real sense of achievement when it was finished. 

I was really pleased I’d got into the habit of writing a page a day because, unfortunately, when my baby was about four months old, I developed post-natal depression.

Suddenly, my life felt extremely hard. 

One of the difficulties with depression, as I experienced it, was it made every small thing feel insurmountable, even normal things like getting up, getting dressed, getting out of the house. But there was a flicker of light knowing that, if I managed to get both me and my children out successfully, I would get to that café and I would get to write. 

There were days when I was really tired and it was tempting to go home. People told me I should take a nap, or put my feet up and watch television, or get some jobs done around the house so I wouldn’t have to do them later with two kids demanding my attention. 

But I never did. 

I’m glad because writing gave me four important things:

I found writing was essential for sifting through and sorting out how I felt about things. Through fictional settings and characters I was able to work through my feelings of fear and frustration, angst and anxiety. Capturing amusing snippets of conversation I overheard or situations I witnessed at the school gates also gave me a lift. 

When I finished my novel, I had to keep going.

I turned to one of my favourite literary past times. Flash fiction. 

When I started writing in those naptimes, I had no idea that the stories I was writing would end up being published. They were for me. They were my therapy. Now my flash fiction is published as a collection, I hope it will bring light to the lives of others too.

When life is hard, let writing be your friend. A moment for you. 

Featured Book: The Almost Mothers
by Laura Besley

The Almost Mothers, published by Dahlia Books, is a collection of flash fiction centred around the theme of what it means to be a mother, explored through 26 pieces that span across time and space; the ordinary and the extraordinary; reality and not-quite-reality.

About Laura Besley

Laura Besley is a full-time mum to two young boys and has various notebooks in which she scribbles ideas for short fiction. She is the author of The Almost Mothers flash fiction collection published by Dahlia Books.

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