An Ocean of Writing

I have been reflecting on the difference between therapeutic writing and creative writing. They are not the same but they swim together in the ocean of our psyches, that dark-light place where we must learn to breathe differently.

Creative writing is delivered via the clefts and crannies of literary genres and styles.

Therapeutic writing defies genre and abhors conformity; it reveals what is hidden in the crevices of our heart.

Creative writing is not only alert to a reader’s tastes and aversions, but also to a publisher’s predilections, predictions and perversions.

Therapeutic writing is nothing less than a writer’s lesions, lacerations and longings.

Creative writing is exhaustively edited and intimately connected to history, elitism and the infallibility of tradition.

Therapeutic writing is unalloyed, the past is only a concern when it can be changed; it is classless and unerring in its quest for revolution.

Creative writing is an exhibitionist; its performances justify its originality, it panders to television, the stage, radio, podcasts, computer games, rappers memes and even graffiti.

Therapeutic writing is private, introverted, reserved, internal and timeless,

Creative writing is plays, poetry, creative nonfiction, flash fiction, short stories, longer stories, novels and words written in the sky. It is epic, it is lyrical, it is rhetorical.

Therapeutic writing is a list, a letter, a memoir, an autobiography, a fragment of a dream dropped onto the page. It is the snatch of a conversation. It is literal. It is intimate. It is discreet.

Creative writing is a school bus yellow Butterflyfish serenely displaying its primary status.

Therapeutic writing is a cerulean, spike-bladed, fin-spined Surgeonfish with impenetrable boundaries.

Creative writing and therapeutic writing are alike even as they are different; they dwell together in the swell and billow of our imagination, they drift in the medium of our emotions. To bathe with them is to be cleansed by their truths and their lies.

15 thoughts on “An Ocean of Writing

    1. Hi Janet,
      So good to see you back. Been thinking about you and hope you are well. Sounded like, although your recent experience didn’t go as planned that the rewards seemed to exceed your expectations.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. As poetic and persuasive as I find your personifications of therapeutic and creative writing, I would suggest that they are the same fish swimming in different directions. (Guess it could be my piscean inclinations!)
    You stated in an earlier post that all art, including writing, is therapeutic.
    Perhaps writing is writing. The intention and/or effect of the writing process may be therapeutic, rather than the nature of the writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, Carol, this is so perceptive of you; I was going to include the Piscean image of the fish swimming in two directions but I decided against it. This is probably because, as I have noted in my comments below, I see the two fish as weaving in and around each other, creating a play of light, colour and ripples that spread into the wider ocean. It is in this sense that all art is therapeutic. I agree also that it is the intent and the process that matters. This blog was created to share my research but I am finding it therapeutic because I love the process of writing (despite it never being easy or plain sailing!). Now that my writing is ‘public’ I feel more like a creative writer because my intent is to communicate with others, not with my inner self or wounded self. Then again, all writing must ‘speak to the writer’ in some way, why write it otherwise? It seems that trying to define something is pinning it down, which (to play around once more with my metaphor) is hard to do to a fish unless you catch and kill it and that’s NOT what I want.
      Happy writing.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s so good to hear Sonny; thank you for your comment. I wonder, however, what you think of my replies to calensarial and vibrant? Could you turn what you call therapeutic into a short story or poem for publication?

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Cheryl. I understand what you mean. That doesn’t, however, stop us from turning what started out as therapeutic into something we might call creative. The result can be moving and enlightening for our readers and therapeutic for us.
      Enjoy your writing week.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello Janet 🙂
    I have never read such clear cut definitions.
    Based on this it seems I have never done creative writing and that is true.
    I hope you have a lovely week ahead.
    Love and light ❤
    Anand 🙂


    1. Hello Anand,
      I enjoyed writing this post. I’m glad you have found it useful and I have had a lovely week, thank you.
      I want to let you and the others who have commented on my post know why I take a little time to reply to your comments. It is because I want to think about each comment, gain a little distance from my post, and then respond to people’s comments rather than react to them. It is interesting that one of the comments made about this post says that ‘writing is writing,’ while another indicates, like you, that they can ‘tell the difference in my writing’. I think both positions can be true. Writing is a creative act so any writing, by that definition, is creative writing. I think my post covers intent rather than process (although process is certainly a part of my post). In the past, my writing was ‘therapeutic’, but I wanted it to be ‘creative’. Now I feel as if I can do both, it depends what I want to achieve and why. I guess I am trying to say, despite creating what you called ‘clear cut definitions,’ is I recommend we don’t limit ourselves. Definitions are useful when we need clarity. The fun thing about writing is trying to break the boundaries created by definitions. Thanks again for commenting and I hope you have a lovely weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

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