There are loads of not-very-helpful quotes out there about the act of writing. You know what I mean - the truisms. You write to find out what you're really thinking... You write to exorcise demons... Trouble is, it can end up sounding like you do it because it's good for you in some way.
Well - personally - I don't do it to help me confront and grapple with something that's screwing me up. Quite the contrary. I take the (possibly dangerous, possibly self-destructive) decision to use and abuse something raw and personal in order to help the writing. If I gain anything from closer scrutiny of that event from my past, or my loved ones, or my lost ones, that's an accidental by-product and it's more likely that it won't do me any good at all. It's the writing that benefits, not me.
I can't speak for anyone else but for me it's not about trying to be true to myself, it's about trying to say something interesting. It's taking something from inside me - something that was personal - and hopefully making it a little bit more universal, even if it means losing touch with the original or at the very least pushing it further away. That can't be therapeutic.
There's one quote, one truism, I do think is worth remembering. The one about a non-writing writer being a monster courting insanity. Kafka said it. And in those terms, anything that gets you writing, whatever you write, however it plunders your private parts... is therapy.
Anyway, I did some plundering for the always-interesting Paragraph Planet website. It's up today.
I've been writing for as long as I can remember (I think my first letter was a P). I got a degree writing about other people's writing and ever since then I've earned a living writing commercially, one way or another. But I never stopped writing and refining my own stuff. I just didn't do anything with it, until now.