Graham Greene once said, “writing is a form of therapy.” This is true for many authors over the years who have found that writing helped cure their mental illnesses. And some of those authors are Tennessee Williams, Jenny Lawson, Matt Haig, and JK Rowling.
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Williams’ struggles with communication as a child actually helped his writing career. He was incredibly shy and isolated himself in his room as a child and teenager. In order to cope, Williams began to write books, plays, and poems. His work was influenced by his unwanted feeling of homosexuality and his addiction to drugs and alcohol. His life was turned around when American Blues, a group of one-act plays that he wrote, won a Group Theatre award.
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Although writing didn’t cure Haig’s depression on its own, it did help. He was able to release his feelings of angst onto the page. Articulating the emotions in his head was therapeutic to Haig. He hoped that readers who were having the same struggles could find comfort in his work.
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In her novel, in Writing as a Way of Healing: How Telling Our Stories Transforms Our Lives, Louise DeSalvo states “Creativity is a basic human response to trauma and a natural emergency defense.” DeSalvo suffered from depression herself and uses this novel to show how writing can heal emotional wounds.
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Several factors contributed to the depression Rowling suffered from, including her unemployment status and her role as a single mother. Her toxic marriage with a television journalist fell apart after just two years. As her life as single mother began, Rowling started to feel lonely and hopeless. She worried she’d never be happy again and feared that something might happen to her young daughter Jessica.
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The healing began however, when Rowling put her pen to paper. She wanted to write, so she wrote. Getting turned down by every big publisher in the UK didn’t seem so bad to her after all that had already happened.
But the rejections she received after finishing her first novel and sending it out to publishers made her even more depressed. She thought about committing suicide several times. But when the thirteenth publisher took a chance on her, Rowling’s life was changed for the better.
Money, fame and several movie deals came with the novel’s publication, but nothing was better than the happiness that Rowling felt after the publication of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
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