Thursday, May 19, 2011

Writing as logotherapy

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Journaling the dry creekbedHolocaust survivor and psychologist, Viktor Frankl introduced the idea of logotherapy to the mental health community in his book Man's Search for Meaning. According to Frankl, finding meaning in situations and events that we find threatening can be therapeutic in part because the act of making meaning allows us to regain a sense of control over the situation. We might not be able to control everything that happens to us, but we can control what we make of the situation.

So often, it seems like real life experiences creep into our writing. Each novel is an opportunity to work out an issue from the past or take a relationship that went south and make it turn out okay in the end. New characters give the writer a chance to be the bad ass they never could be in real life.

Hence, the question in every author interview (just about): was this story inspired by a real experience?

I loved Carolyn Mackler's response to this in her speech at the SCBWI Winter conference a couple of years ago. She said that an interviewer asked her how Vegan Virgin Valentine reflected her current life experiences. At the time she wrote it, she was very pregnant and not a vegan.

For those of you with a way with words, how does writing work for you? Do you use it as a way to escape reality or come to terms with it?