Writing as a form of psychological therapy is an established practice—used by writers, therapists, teachers and teenagers for years. In fact, the subject has even been explored on this very blog, by several of our columnists. This week I’ve found, much to my surprise, that writing can also work as a form of pain therapy.
Several weeks ago, I started Morning Pages again. I haven’t done it every day, but I’ve stuck with it more than half of the days since. But in the last 2 weeks I’ve been fighting something a little more challenging than writer’s block. I’m suffering through a prolonged series of very intense headaches. And the Morning Pages are helping…at least a little.
Late last week I started my Pages by trying to describe the pain I was feeling—not really planning to use it for anything, but half of the purpose of Morning Pages is simply to clear out all the junk that clogs up the creative pipeline. And in the middle of my Pages another headache started.
I don’t know why—maybe I was just tired of giving in to the recurring pain—but I tired to write through the pain. And the pain increased I just kept writing. When the pain got severe enough that my eyes began to tear, I just kept writing blind. And while it didn’t alleviate the pain, it did make me less anxious, more able to deal with the pain.
What I wrote that first time was unintelligible, meaningless scribble. But I’ve continued the experiment, keeping my Pages journal close at hand so that I can grab it when a headache starts. And as I’ve kept at it, my blind handwriting has gotten good enough that I can manage to read some of it.
What I write isn’t really usable—it’s sort of like reading the screenplay of a dream—but the physical act of putting pen to paper has served as a form of therapy that helps me deal with my headaches. Maybe when I’m through this cycle I’ll be able to find a use for the pages of tortuous scribbles.