Book: Write Your Way Out Of Depression - Practical Self-Therapy For Creative Writers (Writer's Craft Book 21) by Rayne Hallcategories: Book, Self-Help, Mental Health, Psychotherapy, Emotional Disorders, Personal Development, Creative Writing, Anxiety, Self-Treatment, Psychology, Non-Fiction, Bipolar Disorder, Depression
Rayne Hallabout this book: Here is a sample chapter:
RAYNE'S STRATEGY 2: DESCRIBE YOUR EMOTIONS
While you suffer depression, your brain produces intense negative emotions: grief, anger, resentment, fear, inner pain, regret, shame, guilt, worry, envy, self-loathing and more.
As a writer, you have a powerful tool to reduce these emotions: simply use your descriptive skills. The effect is astonishing and fast.
Here's how you do it:
Whenever you feel bad, identify the emotion. Observe where in the body you feel it, and how it feels.
Describe it. Use a simile (a comparison with something else).
"I experience… It feels like..."
"I experience… It feels as if..."
Here are some examples from my own notes:
"I experience fear. It feels like a giant iron fist clutched around my chest, squeezing the air from my lungs."
"I experience anger. It feels like hot acid rising from my stomach into my throat."
"I experience worry. It feels as if I had an ugly toad squatting between my shoulder blades."
"I experience inner pain. It feels like a knife ripping inside my gut."
By labelling and observing your emotions, you're objectifying them. They lose their power over you.
At the same time, you're becoming a better writer. You're creating vivid emotional descriptions which you can use in your fiction. In years to come, whenever a point-of-view character experiences one of these emotions, you can look up your notes how it felt to you. You'll have a fresh, original description that will dazzle your readers with its raw, vibrant authenticity.
FROM MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
I discovered this technique after a session with a cognitive-behavioural therapist who advised me to label and observe emotions so I would recognise them.
This was tremendously helpful – and I immediately saw that this therapy could double up as practical writing research.
It got to the point where I actually welcomed the negative emotions: ("Ah, jealousy! Great, that's a new one for my collection.") I felt pleased about the bad feeling… and that immediately gave me boost.
Those phrases have been so useful in my fiction writing. If you read my short stories and novels, you'll come across sentences like these:
"The iron fear of fist clutched around his chest and squeezed the air from his lungs."
"Anger rose like hot acid from her stomach."
"Worry squatted like an ugly toad between her shoulder blades."
"Pain ripped like a knife in his gut."
Book reviewers often praise my skill at conveying emotions in a fresh, vivid way. One reviewer even quoted the sentence about the ugly toad as an example of my original writing.
ALEXANDER'S EXPERT ADVICE
For a person who struggles with depression, getting a handle on those negative emotions can sometimes feel like a herculean task. Depression is often perceived as a deep and heavy fog which clouds your judgment and prevents you from finding your way out. You feel "bad", but you don't know how to describe your emotion and this will most likely cancel your ability to exercise control over your feelings.
By using writing as a therapeutic tool, you'll be amazed to see how your once hazy emotions will slowly begin to take shape right in front of your eyes. In other words, you're no longer fighting in the shadows but on an open field.
Metaphorically speaking, the act of putting your emotions on paper symbolizes your attempt to externalize them. Even more, by describing each and every one of your troubling feelings, you make an effort to understand the very core of depression, thus taking the first steps towards healing.
Just like the profiler who manages to sketch accurate portraits based on vague descriptions, you too can create a detailed image of your negative emotions just by putting a few words on a piece of paper. In fact, you can even improve this exercise by painting/drawing a picture for every emotion that you've described.
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