Writing fiction as shadow work

Amanda Ylva, a writer who is also on Tumblr posted a reply earlier about how writing fiction helped her through some pretty tough times and deal with some pretty intense emotions. Because it is so personal and contained some triggering subjects I didn’t want to reblog it directly, but it did get me thinking.

She speaks about how she wrote with her depression as the antagonist in the form shadowy creatures. And that is just so amazing to me. It’s a tool that lets you confront your feelings in a direct way without being overwhelmed. You have a degree of separation between you and your depression, namely a character, or at the very least, a pen and paper. And like she says, you can have conversations with your shadowy antagonists, which will probably give you a lot of answers that you didn’t even knew you had.

She also says that she will give dialogue that has been painful for her in the past to her characters. Things said to her that were painful, or thoughts that she’s had about herself. Then other characters react to that in a very healing way. (”I am not worthy, do I even deserve to have desires”) (”your life is your own, you are worthy simply for being alive”). And that is such a good way to deal with that. I have had therapy (and am on the waiting-list to go back) where these techniques were used, but then as a visualisation, where you see yourself as you are now, saying these things to the self you were when this dialogue was born. But with writing it as a different character, you will get different, but no less meaningful, things that will be said.

I’ve had some realizations about my own fiction writing and trauma recently, but that had to do more with certain recurring themes. Certain plotpoints that I keep injecting into my writing in various ways. Some subtle, some less so, but all of them have some themes the same. Using the writing of fiction in this way would be a more direct approach to working through certain thoughts and emotions and yes, shadows as well. I could see this as a technique to “speak” to your shadows, to get them to show themselves and to integrate them.

Thank you, Amanda for giving me something to think deeply on.

(First posted to Tumblr, revised for the blog)

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