Writing is an odd thing. Text based mediums is one of the oldest forms of communications besides speech and it’s something lots of different people do for several different reasons. Some write to create, some write to inform, some write to vent, some write to try and become famous, really there are probably as many different reasons to be as there are writers in the world. Though in my case I write for a very specific reason.
I write to feel better about myself.
For most of my adult life, I’ve suffered from depression which increased exponentially after I graduated from college. The reason for this is very simply I experienced a problem lots of college graduates do, the field they’re trained in isn’t in demand enough for them to get relevant work in it. My major was not in fact writing when I graduated college, really it doesn’t matter what it was. The truth was I wasn’t in a field that wanted what I could offer, which meant in the three years since graduation I’ve had little to offer professionally besides retail work I did to keep up the payments for rent and my car.
It was around that time that I started seriously writing.
People looking at this post are probably thinking how that would be if I haven’t published anything formally yet, but let me rephrase this. About a year before I graduated I started writing fanfiction in my spare time as a way to relieve stress which I updated with some regularity over the last couple of years. This was one of the things I did to help me get through the harder days working retail. The writing of fanfiction as well as the posting of it also gave me something my normal life couldn’t give me.
Relatively quick helpful feedback and congratulations for my work.
It sounds rather shallow, posting stories and looking forward to the reviews for fanfiction but I don’t think people who haven’t done it really understand what it does when you have depression. A lot of depression isn’t just feeling sad, a lot of it is just not feeling anything. You’re like a giant meh going out to the world, with this all encompassing emptiness that is punctuated heavily by bouts of thinking about how meaningless it all feels.
Then someone posts a positive review on your work.
In all truth, I think my serotonin levels are always at an all time low because I absolutely crave the smiles I get when I read positive posts on my works. I especially like it if they’re longer than a few sentences. I love it when my readers speculate or comment on character development. Picking up on themes, grasping the intangible things I try to slip in while also creating sympathy for the type of situations the characters I write are put into. In a lot of ways those pieces of positive feedback can help ground me when the other people in my life who do the same are occupied. Which helps me get through tougher times.
There is also the aspect of writing that lets me get through is the control I have when I do it. When you create a world you control all the aspects of it, the characters, the plot, the struggle, you get to debate all of it and that more than anything is something I have always craved. I know to some extent everyone wants to have direct control over their life, but in truth there is a lot of frustration about the things I can’t actually affect. When I create worlds, situations, struggles, failures and then triumphs, it gives me a measure of control, but it also gives me the ability to have a character exert and affect their world in ways I cannot.
I on my own, will never have the abilities to topple empires, right wrongs, bring low systems of injustice or remove those who might harm the innocent and the weak. But my characters can. My characters can move against the grain, they can fight the systems that keep people down, they can eventually change it and make things right. So when I create them, I can feel a bit better even a little bit about the things I personally cannot change.
Maybe it’s juvenile, maybe it’s wish fulfillment, maybe it’s escapism, but in truth I don’t really care. I write because it helps me deal with the world and the problems I have. Plus I think in some way, it can help other people too. I love reading, I love stories of all forms and it always makes me feel better to experience the triumphs and falls of those characters I truly care about.
So in short, I write to escape and to hopefully give other people an escape, at least for a short while to make the world more bearable.