On the side, I've been cataloging the reasons why a writer would write. There could be any number of responses: compelled to, for the money, for the accolades, to see your name on the spine on a book, for the sense of accomplishment.
But I'm adding to that list: writing to heal, or therapeutic writing. This is something that therapists use frequently when in session with a client. Keeping a journal is usually a homework exercise. Letter writing is also a common exercise, but either way, it's healing. You can journal your innermost thoughts on a piece of paper (or word processor) that doesn't talk back, try to get you to change your mind, or make you feel guilty for what you expressed. You can use bad grammar (well, unless you really want to be published), be repetitive, chase rabbits and have no apparent point...and that's okay!
In the interest of being transparent, I wrote my first novel for very therapeutic reasons. When I was fresh out of college, I did an internship for a year where I worked with college students. Being young and immature, I messed up. A lot. And the regret I felt really stayed with me. So I wrote this book, and the protagonist was a girl who looked strikingly like me and had lots of my character traits, but I wrote her doing things right. I wrote her doing things the way I wish I had done.
In essence, I rewrote my past. Well, to be more specific, I rewrote a portion of my past that caused me and a lot of others pain. In a way, I was asking for forgiveness through my writing. Forgiveness from God, forgiveness from the ones I hurt and forgiveness from myself. By the time I finished that book...I felt more complete. Whole. Forgiven. And that was worth the toil and labor for that book.
Stay tuned for more thoughts on writing to heal.