I think a lot of people find that writing is a cathartic process. I know I’ve written about it here before, because this is very true for me. I guess getting your thoughts out onto the page can really help clarify your feelings.
But I’ve come across some talk recently about the way in which the narrative writing process can be very good for your mental health. At first thought, that makes sense on a superficial level, when you think about the way that writers and filmmakers tend to be attracted to themes and plots that resonate with them, to the extent that some creators seem to be more like a franchise than anything. Or when you think about how annoyingly neurotic Woody Allen films are (sorry fans, just a personal opinion), you can see how he is literally working through his issues on film.
So, how does that work really? Well, those of you that like to write scripts, you’ll have had a lot of books handed, gifted and pushed on you about structure. There are a lot of different theories of structure when it comes to film, some more useful than others, and people have their personal preference on which is right for them, but the essence is that the main protagonist goes through experiences which bring about change, and most often, writers write about what they know.
In this way, you kind of get the feelings and situations of your life experience out of you and onto the page, which certainly helps. The key factor though is that as you write, your story takes over, and you seek out alternative situations, alternative endings from what could have been, or other better outcomes. Or even that snappy comeback that you wish you’d said, but only thought of after the other person had walked away. You rewire your understanding of the situation as it sits in your consciousness, and through writing that ending, you release the need to go over that situation again or the emotions associated with it. You can let it go. You also have to see it through a different perspective and in a slightly more neutral way, so you start to see other ways of viewing the situation, other opinions.
Then, the structure of the narrative, that need to draw things to their conclusion, to work your way through them and come up with an outcome means you literally have to finish with the themes and characters, you are worked through them and they work through you.
Kind of makes me wonder if that’s the reason why a lot of people talk about writing something but never really begin? Or start scripts, but are unable to finish them? Just a thought.
Some links and further reading for you: