Writing Therapy

Ever since I was old enough to read, I knew I wanted to be a writer.

But alongside my love of creating other worlds, there has always been something else tugging at me; a certain curiosity about human nature. It’s part of the writer-as-observer, of course  – the dissecting of motivations, the analysing of behaviour and character, seeing how certain actions or internal blocks result in drama. But it’s more than that. I don’t just enjoy the intellectual pursuit of studying people; I love to see them change and grow in real life.

This is why, if I hadn’t become a writer, I’d definitely have been a therapist.

My best friend is a psychotherapist and I always knew she would be. Aged 11, we’d call each other up every evening after school. I’d sit in the hall, hogging the landline (because back in those days it was a landline, stuck to the wall, immovable) and we’d talk back through our day – what was happening, how we felt, what we were going to do next. Mini counselling sessions for mini-us.

We carried this tradition on into our teens and our twenties and our thirties, through phone calls and emails and visits to each other’s houses and spa days and holidays, with wine and without. These days, we take weekly walks around the park in between work commitments and everything has changed and nothing has changed, as we talk through our days, our lives – What’s happening? How do we feel? What we are going to do next?

While my best friend followed her calling to become the brilliant therapist she now is, I followed mine to become a writer. But it is thanks to these self-development tools that I have always loved – the introspection, the analysis with gifted friends, and the therapy I have benefited from myself – that I’ve been able to do what I love for a living.

Now, as a teacher of creative writing classes and a creative mentor, it’s these techniques, as much as any literary devices, that I find myself coming back to as the basis for how we carve out a writing life.

Writing and therapy have so much in common. Which is to say, writing and living have so much in common.

You can’t control writing, you have to trust the process, let it take you where it wants you to go. Sometimes your writing needs structure, sometimes it needs room to just be, and you won’t always know which time is which. Sometimes you’ll be in the pure, joyful moment, sometimes it’ll feel like hard graft. Sometimes things will happen that will make you feel wretched and inadequate and raw. Sometimes you will know, for maybe a fleeting minute, precisely how wonderful you are.

Sometimes, often, in writing as in life, you’ll be getting in the way of your own forward momentum. Here, you must focus on removing the blocks so that you can enjoy the flow of creativity and happiness that is your due.

And there’s no way to get it right!  Crazy but true. Living and writing aren’t meant to be the pursuit of perfection. Well, not if you want to be happy, anyway.

Instead, it’s all just food for growth. We’ll go wrong, and we’ll correct our course, time and time again, and there will ALWAYS be more to learn. But, as I have learned to my eternal gratitude, we’ll stay more on path than off if we have people in our lives who are willing to ask us (and if we are willing to ask ourselves) the same few simple questions:

What’s happening? How do you feel about it? And what are you going to do next?

Find out about creative writing classes here, or for more info on creative mentoring sessions, email nicolamostyn@gmail.com

We are all creative

 

I meet so many people who are fascinated when I tell them I’m a writer. Eventually, they might get around to telling me that they like to write too. Or they would like to. Or they used to. Most of the people I speak to aren’t actually writing though.

Why is this?

Unfortunately, many people don’t feel like they have the right to write. They may feel like they have something to say, but there’s also something equally strong that’s stopping them. Maybe they think they’ll be no good. Maybe they think they don’t have the time. Maybe they don’t believe writing is the kind of thing people like them do: “Who do I think I am, wanting to be a writer?”

Maybe they’ve been criticised and are scared to try again. (I get this. In my early twenties I gave some of my stories and poems to a classmate to read. She handed them back a week later in complete silence. I didn’t write another word of fiction for five years.)

Here’s the thing. All human beings are creative, and creating makes us happy.

But creativity is like exercise. The longer we go without doing it, the weaker the muscles get. What used to feel natural and easy starts to feel impossible and scary and just something other people do.

The only way to get better at writing is to write. So, we write. We build that muscle and we gain our confidence, and we learn to trust our creativity, trust those stories inside us that want to come out.

My creative writing classes offer what I wished I’d had when I started out –  a place to find encouragement and advice about the blocks to writing, as well as a space in which to get some words down on the page, to spark new ideas and nurture creative confidence.

I love writing. I believe we are all creative, and I want to help more people re-connect with the flow of creativity that they know is inside them, because I know how transformative it can be.

Find out about my Manchester based creative writing classes

My writing story

I’m Nicola, and I have been writing for a living for 17 years, as a journalist, copywriter, editor and most recently, as an author.

In 2016 I received a two book deal from Piatkus, Little Brown. My debut novel THE GODS OF LOVE will be published in Feb 2018.
So, what’s my writing story?

Even though I was working as a journalist for many years, it took me a long time to admit I wanted to write fiction. And then when I started it took me even longer to understand my own processes, work out what kind of writer I was, and learn to write the kind of fiction I love to read.So trust me when I say I’ve been where you are.

I’ve written stories and ditched them. I’ve started novels and not finished them, or finished them and not shown anyone. But along the way I’ve discovered the techniques and – more importantly – the attitude that allowed me to finish my first novel, write query letters and synopses, pitch out, get rejected, pitch out again, get an agent, receive interest in my work and land a two book deal with one of the big five publishers.

I got my book deal the year I turned forty. Plenty of other writers who have best-selling, award winning books got published in their fifties and sixties, so don’t let anyone tell you it can’t be done, or that it’s too late to try. (But still, don’t wait any longer. Start now!)

So. I’m not here to tell you how to write, I’m here to tell you that you already can. Whatever you need to learn, you will learn by doing. You just need to get out of your own way.

Then why do you need me?

Well, with these articles, creative writing classes and mentor sessions, I’m offering what I wished I’d had when I started out –  a place to find encouragement and advice about the blocks to writing, as well as a space in which to get some words down on the page, to spark new ideas and nurture creative confidence.

I love writing. I believe we are all creative, and I want to help more people re-connect with the flow of creativity that they know is inside them, because I know how transformative it can be.

Click here to find out about classes I am running in Manchester, UK.

Or if you’d like to have a chat with me about any of the above, I’m always happy to hear from you. Email me at nicolamostyn@gmail.com with the subject line Creative Writing