i’ve started actively using writing as a method of self-care and wow. that shit is magical. my current favorite coping mechanism is literally just writing fanfiction of my two favorite queer characters cuddling. just straight up thousands of words on the subject, all of my pieces just a variation of that theme interspersed with some talking out of mental health issues among understanding parties. it’s the most goddamn self-indulgent work i have ever done and it is doing fucking wonders =for me.
i’ve always been inclined to view my work as for myself first, foremost, and most importantly, but i’ve never approached writing deliberately as an exercise in meeting my mental health needs. it’s something i used to do as a kid, which i recognize in hindsight, but i didn’t understand it as self-care at the time.
the process started for me again on a bad depression and anxiety night. i was failing to fall asleep because i just couldn’t get my brain to stop shouting awful things at me, so i started daydreaming about how a scene could play out between these two characters i’ve recently fallen deeply, deeply in love with (something i’ll write about here soon – once i’ve got the right words for it).
since i daydream in narration – taking the time to edit my word choice and everything – the act was essentially writing without the physical writing part. i fell asleep! feeling pretty damn all right! i didn’t have any intention of writing that daydream out, but god knows i need the practice so i went ahead with it and posted it online (it might be for me, but i’m still an artist: the audience is a siren song).
as it often works, one piece made me feel inspired to write another one and, like the first one, i crafted this piece to be just exactly what i wanted and needed – no catering to an audience’s desires or anybody else’s understandings of these characters or even my own insecurities. i just gave myself what i needed. it was, again, wonderful, so now that’s what i sit down to do: i am 100% upfront with myself about what this writing is and i use it as self-care with intention.
i take these characters through tough, loving conversations about mental health and how they’ll deal with it in their romantic relationship. i linger on the soft and sweet touches i have them share. i don’t have a way to make either of those things happen for me in real life (i’m single, for one; bad at talking, for two; and touch averse, for three) but i can take these characters that i relate to so, so much and, essentially, experience things that will meet my need for comfort and touch and feeling like somebody can fucking see me for real, in the world’s safest space: a blank page.
the mix of the act and craft of writing – i do work to make sure these characters are in-character when i’m writing them and that my prose is interesting, dynamic, and poetic – with the outright pursuit of healing myself is incredibly powerful. i’ve never considered myself good at much except writing (i can write you any goddamn thing you want, except, like, if what you want is plot lmao; i’m categorically disinterested in plot) and writing has always been a self-esteem booster for me. to use it as a self-care tool is goddamn revolutionary.
like, it’s more actually more than just a coping mechanism. i’m really working through shit – at my pace. i’m spending time with myself, i’m exploring my needs and why i have them and how i can work to be able to meet them, and i’m identifying trends in my work that reveal myself to me. plus i’m accomplishing things! i’m finishing pieces, which is always a nice feeling, and i’m honing my craft. i’m working toward the goal of being the caliber of writer that i’d like to be, which i can only become by writing thousands upon thousands of words. i already see my writing improving. it’s the most win/win situation i have ever been in, honestly.
also, while fanfiction presents a unique opportunity to be used for self-care (it’s so easy – you already know and love and identify with the characters so you just get to fill in the blanks; you don’t need to worry if this moment fits the story you’re telling because the moment is the story and you’re beholden to no plot – unless you want to be), fanfiction isn’t the only way i’m doing this. i’ve got a poem or three – honestly don’t know whether it’s one or three poems, we’ll see – that i’m using to work through some shit. my last blog post was about working through some shit.
it’s interesting that i feel the desire for a need for an audience in all these mediums. i post all my fic; i posted that last blog post even though i was certain it wasn’t going to be useful for anybody else (it saved me that day); i’m hoping to get the poem(s) in front of people when they’re ready. i think that’s part of the self-care actually – my need to be seen, to feel as though i’m known in at least some capacity, and to know that other people are actually out there.
of course that also means that i still have that little voice going “but the audience is going to expect xyz.” but like fuck that. i tamp that little voice down. it takes some effort to do sometimes, but i am dedicated to defending this method of self-care against instincts i have that would encroach on it. it’s doing me so much good that i’m not going to let it become anything else. this is what i need, it’s goddamn survival. and i am gonna survive.