Reasons to Write: Write to Relax

By Christina Katz

Do you feel calmer and more centered after writing? I know I do. Maybe I’m just a wound up ball of Christina Katznervous energy and the only way I can loosen up is by channeling that creative urge into a discipline like writing. Maybe I can’t really loosen up unless I have a pencil in hand or a keyboard at my fingertips. Maybe I am just too intense!
Although, to cut myself a little bit of slack, when writing is what you do every day, it’s easy to forget that you ever wrote to relax. The typical cause of this type of amnesia is usually deadline pressure and other professional obligations, which interferes with the playful joy of just splashing around in the creative process without a worry in the world- typically the kind of experience that brought many of us to writing in the first place.
I am certainly not exempt. When the deadlines are running high, I sometimes forget that writing and relaxing go together like lolling in a hammock goes with summer. Yesterday, after a couple of days of feeling out of sorts, I sat down and cranked out an article that was almost due.
Afterwards, I remarked to my husband what a great mood I was in…and then I noticed why. I was in a great mood because I had just finished a period of concentrated writing. It did not matter that this was an assignment that I have every month. It did not matter that the material I was writing has already been well traversed by my pen. I completely enjoyed composing the article and polishing it for publication.
Yet it was only because I forgot how much I like to write that I enjoyed it so much. Like most things, the harder you try to keep the feelings the same as they once were, the more elusive the pleasurable ones become. Actually, the more you insist on things staying exactly the same, the less you can really grow as a writer.
So if the process of writing isn’t as relaxing as it once was, you might want to reunite with a long-lost friend, that antique among writing devices, the pencil.  And since we’re talking about pencils, we can’t go much further without also bringing up the pencil’s best friend, a good electronic pencil sharpener.
I am writing this column on a yellow legal pad with a newly sharpened pencil, while sitting on the floor of my carpeted office, with my back against the floral-pattern couch, listening to the whisper of graphite on paper. The rhythmic movement of my hand across the page making a sharp point dull soothes whatever savage beasts I might have been wrestling with only moments ago.
In fact, if you were to bring up one of the beasts by name in this moment, I would shrug it off: Beasts, what beasts? Shhh. I’m writing. By the time my pencil is made dull, I’ll forget that I ever had a negative thought, a neurotic impulse, or a bad habit. None of them will have mattered one whit. I will be as close to at peace as a ball of nervous energy can come.
You might be tempted to try and bottle that feeling of blissful release. To try and replicate it every time you sit down to write. But don’t. You can get hooked on your own compulsive urges. They can wreck things that otherwise work beautifully. Don’t. Just forget the results you hope for and feel the whirl of the motor as you sharpen up that pencil.

 Writer Mama by Christina KatzGet Known Before the Book Deal by Christina KatzChristina Katz is the author of Get Known Before the Book Deal, Use Your Personal Strengths to Build an Author Platform and Writer Mama, How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids (both for Writer’s Digest Books). A platform development coach and consultant, she teaches writing career development, hosts the Northwest Author Series, and is the publisher of several e-zines including Writers on the Rise. Christina blogs at The Writer Mama Riffs and Get Known Before the Book Deal, and speaks at MFA programs, literary events, and conferences around the country.

2 Responses to “Reasons to Write: Write to Relax”

  1. 1 Dawn Herring September 29, 2009 at 8:55 pm

    I have always found journaling to be the part of writing that relaxes me the most. I do enjoy writing a memoir piece, an essay that strikes a chord in me, or a poem that expresses my feelings metaphorically.
    Working on my novel has a different feel altogether; perhaps it’s the desire to complete it this year, knowing I still have a few more chapters to write. Although it does give me a sense of satisfaction after every written scene, knowing I’m making progress.

    I still wholly appreciate all of the benefits I gain from the writing process. I get excited about future prospects and share my zeal with my husband. And he always says, I’m so glad you’re happy.

    Thanks for the reminder, Christina, of enjoying the act of writing despite the responsibility that often goes with it.

    Dawn Herring
    JournalWriter Freelance
    Be Refreshed!

  2. 2 alisonwells October 5, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    I know that if I can’t, for some reason, (usually domestic or child related) get to my writing, I feel edgy. Conversely, as you say, once I’ve had a good writing session I feel myself flood with energy and exhuberance. I’m glad you mentioned the lovely pencil also. I’ve been thinking a lot about the lost physicality of our interactions and expression. An old friend of mine recently told me (by text) that he was going to send me a letter. A letter! It’s almost antiquarian at this point. There is so much more to the feel of a letter. There is the shape and bulk of it. There is the ink splattered writing indicating the speed and sentiment of the writing: fast and frantic, stuttered or hesitant. Smudges and imprints, folds and textures. What comfort to sit, as you did, leaned up against the furniture with the solidity of a notebook in your hand, feeling your hand nudge across the page. When we need to get back in touch with ourselves, perhaps we need to physically put those words on the page.

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