I have a secret. The writing that you see from me here, on Haunted MTL, and in my novels, is not everything that I write. If I were being generous, I’d say maybe half of the writing I do is ever seen by another human being.
That’s something to consider, isn’t it? I’m not exactly Stephen King, but I do put out a considerable amount of work every year. Usually one new book or podcast season, at least 52 blog posts, and just under 100 critical reviews. Then there are all the short stories, poetry, and micro-fiction I post on Instagram and Mastodon.
So, what is all this other writing? Am I holding out on you? Well, no, not really. Most of the writing isn’t all that interesting. It’s the compost, as Natalie Goldberg would say. It’s the freewriting and writing exercises that are to a writer what a practice sketch is to a painter. These are vital pages, even if they’re mostly nonsensical, out-of-context work. I have been practicing a lot of description writing recently because I realize my descriptions suck.
In my sketchbooks, you’ll find bad poetry that I wrote just because it was fun. You’ll find story ideas that went nowhere, little things that stuck out to me through the day, and little angry notes from things that piss me off at my day job. I also talk a great deal about things that are worrying me in my sketchbook. A lot of things worry me, and there are just only so many ears that care to hear my woes over and over again.
My personal writing falls into three categories. Writing that is practice, writing that is memory keeping, and writing that is therapy.
Writing practice happens every day. I try to start my day with ten minutes of freewriting, kind of like stretching. Later, usually in the afternoon, I’ll try to do a writing exercise. This doesn’t always happen, of course. But I try to make it happen most days.
My memory keeping is much smaller. There are little notes jotted in my bullet journal, my sketchbook, and my grimoire. I also keep a dream journal and a gratitude journal. As if that wasn’t enough, I’ll write one line about the day each day on my perpetual desk calendar. All of this takes maybe five to ten minutes in the morning. I just want a few snapshots. Later, I want to be able to visit with who I am now.
Finally, of course, I do a lot of therapeutic writing. I’m no stranger to negative emotions, of course. I’m often angry, sad, depressed, and stressed out. These emotions aren’t bad, and they need space to be expressed. They need to have space to exist. There are reasons why we feel how we feel.
The healthiest place I’ve found, to let these negative emotions have the space they need, is on the page.
Whether you’re a writer or not, these forms of writing can be great for you. Writing is fun, frankly. It can be fun to write a little poem or story idea, even if it never goes anywhere. Memory keeping is a wonderful thing to do, both for your future self and your loved ones. And of course, I think we all have emotions that we need to get out of our heads and give another space to live. If you want to get a little witchy with it, you can burn the paper afterward. It’s therapeutic.
So, I want to hear what you think. What sort of writing do you do that is just for you? Let us know in the comments.
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