Therapeutic Writing and Reaching Reluctant Readers

From Light to Dark and Back Again

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Why is writing therapeutic at times? I think it is because you are either writing something out of your system or because you are writing something different to whatever situation you are in and it acts as a distraction. Both are worthy reasons to write.

One great reason for writing fantasy, and indeed science fiction, is you are unlikely to have direct experience of the world you’re creating and the problems peculiar to it unless you DO happen to be a time/space traveller who knows that world exists because you’ve been there!😁

I’ve never set out to specifically write with therapy in mind. I write to, hopefully, entertain (the flash fiction and blogs) and maybe share things I’ve found useful on my writing journey (posts like this one, a lot of my Chandler’s Ford Today articles and so on). What I have found is in the difficult periods of life (and this year has been a dreadful one in many ways), writing can be a wonderful outlet because it does take me away from the current situation.

Whatever the reason you write though, I think first and foremost you have got to love doing so. Love of story, the written word etc does help keep you going through rejections.

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I think one of the most difficult things any author has to face is the problem of how do you get people reading who are not already “into” books? How do you get them to see reading as a valid form of entertainment?

I learned to read early (thanks, Mum!) and so developed a love of stories and books early. That love, of course, has only grown over the years and my taste in stories and books has also expanded out to include many different genres now. I’ve also developed a real love for well written and entertaining non-fiction. But how do you reach people in the first place?

I’m no fan of soap operas on TV or radio but can see how people would get their story fix through them. Likewise, the film and theatre addicts etc. I really don’t “get” reality shows (with the possible exception of the dancing and baking ones, as though I don’t watch, I can see the attraction of learning new skills here). I’m just wondering out loud about those who say they don’t have time to read (and I’ve heard this recently), well do they actually mean that? Or is it a case that they just don’t “get” books? And what can we as writers do about this, if anything?

Image Credit:  All images, unless otherwise stated, are from Pixabay.


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Why can writing be therapeutic? I suppose because it takes you into your own invented world and, while you’re focussing on that, it distracts you from other things (even if only for a short time. Sometimes that short distraction can make a huge difference as to how you handle the situation you’re in/worrying about. When it’s a bigger life issue no amount of distraction can solve, by writing for a while you at least take a break).

You are also focussing on your characters’ needs and what is getting in the way of them having these met. One of the best things about fiction writing is the way it can help encourage your own empathy with others because as you work out why your characters are acting in the way they are, that whole process can give you insights as to why “real” people act the way they do.



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The most important skill you pick up when writing flash fiction regularly is that of editing, as I’ve mentioned before. The great thing is you can then apply what you learn across the board of whatever it is you write.

What do novelists most dread writing? The synopsis and/or blurb. Writing the book is hard work but easier! You are in control of that after all and every writer at least starts off by writing to please themselves first. Condensing your precious prose into a few well-chosen lines is not easy but taking the approach, you will treat writing your synopsis as if it WAS a piece of flash fiction, can be a way of tackling this task.

Flash stories focus on only those things that really matter and so treating your synopsis, in the same way, is not a bad way to go. Every line of your synopsis must reveal crucial information to your reader, in this case, a potential agent/publisher. It is working out what is the crucial-can’t-do-without-this information that is the really tricky part.

Here I think you need to ask yourself what are the bare bones of your novel? What are the things an agent/publisher MUST know and then leave the rest out? Flash fiction writing will help you cut out the wasted words that don’t move your synopsis onwards. Good luck!

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Well, what IS your story? Image via Pixabay.



Just to confirm my launch will be on Saturday 1st April from 10 am to 6 pm UK time.  All welcome!  I have started posting items to the event page including, tonight, a poll asking how writers began writing.  What was the spur?  Comments welcome (as well as joining in with the poll itself).  I will be posting something on the page every night as a kind of warm up to the main event on Saturday.

See the link at

Cyberlaunch Image


Linking in with the cyberlaunch poll, in Quizzes and Questions I ask what educational standards your characters would have.  What kind of questions would they be expected to be able to answer?  Who would host quizzes in your fictional world’s equivalent of the media?


Again trying in with launch, in News of Events, how would your characters promote events (and what would they be promoting?). What counts as news for your characters?


I talk about one of the nice aspects of writing and reproduce the post in full here.

One of the nicest things about writing is how therapeutic it can be when life is going belly side up, so to speak.

Your fictional setting and characters literally take you out of yourself and get you to think about something much more positive. So do I understand writing as therapy? Definitely.

Most of the time I write because (a) I love doing so, (b) I can’t imagine NOT doing so, (c) for entertainment and (d) for publication.

But during those times when life seems to be on the darker side, writing comes into its own. I’m all for the arts in general being used in therapy and I wonder if it was used more often like that, how much would be saved in other NHS costs? Quite a bit I think.

Link to post and page:

Says it all really. Image via Pixabay.

Says it all really. Image via Pixabay. And am glad to say my poorly border collie, Mabel, has very much been showing this spirit.