Writing as Therapy

After I had my second child, I ended up with a really good case of Post Partum Depression. A big enough case that I was hospitalized for a short time and then treated on a regular basis for the next 6 months until being shifted back to my family doctor. A lot of what I learned about therapy was feeling entitled to take care of myself and put myself first. I made sure I got walks in the fresh air and sunshine. I took time every day to sit and read or just do something FOR ME. And when my mind started to race, I learned to write things down  – I journaled.

I don’t know why this was such a shock. I mean, I was never a diary-keeper but in high school when I was going through all that teenage angst, I was always writing poetry etc. as a way of expressing my feelings. Why did I stop? Who knows. I do know that it helped. Writing down my fears and worries suddenly made them smaller. Let me put them in perspective. Or simply let me acknowledge them so I could deal with them.

Then I started writing books – this was partly an emotional outlet and also fit into the “do something just for me” thing. I fell in love with it – with the words, the process, with the happy feeling of a happy ever after and the sense of accomplishment. I had a goal – I wanted to be published. It was something for me to work towards. And I got to do it while still being home with my girls.

In some ways, writing saved me. And in some ways, being ill saved me as now I’ve been able to turn that therapy into a career.


But sometimes it still works as therapy. Because as we all know, life ain’t easy. We all have ups and downs – and while I’m on the subject I have to say the Fillies here at the Junction are some of the strongest and most compassionate women I’ve ever met. Last summer when my father in law was ill, they were there for me. I knew they would understand and they did. They knew exactly what to say. I love my Filly sisters.

And while all this was going on, I had a book to write. I didn’t get much done on it before September, and it was due at the end of that month. But things took a turn for the worst and my father in law passed away at the end of August. My focus was on family.

But as we all know, things don’t go back to normal right after a funeral. And I wrote THE REBEL RANCHER while dealing with a lot of feelings – some of my own, some simply worrying about my husband and his family. You don’t come through something like that unchanged.

This book will always be a bit special – both because I absolutely fell in love with the hero but because I wrote it during an emotional time in our family’s life and also because I worked through a lot of my feelings as Ty dealt with the changes in his family and falling in love with Clara. If Ty is strong and gentle and giving, it’s because that’s what I experienced watching my husband and his family come together. If he is hurting, well, I saw that too. And Clara is there for him, and she understands. I hope I was able to give that sort of support. And writing it helped me deal with all that had happened through what I think is the greatest medium of all – love and happy endings.

Writing was my escape and I love when I get mail from readers telling me that my book allowed them to escape for a few hours or helped them cope with something going on in their lives. If I can bring a smile or a happy feeling in the midst of trouble, I consider that a blessing. I have the best job in the world, don’t I?

THE REBEL RANCHER winds up the Cadence Creek Cowboys duet, but there’s another Cadence Creek story in the works right now.  Ty and Clara’s story officially hits shelves tomorrow. It’s dedicated to my father in law, and my husband, and in a stroke of brilliant luck also has my favourite cover ever.

Happy reading (and writing!)!


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17 thoughts on “Writing as Therapy”

  1. Donna, your books always deal with strong emotions and issues that affect people’s lives. Life isn’t easy and sometimes those issues can be overwhelming. How we deal with them varies, but the support and understanding of those around us is important. It is to our benefit that you have been able to work you way through live and its rough spots through writing. It helps you and gives us insight into how your characters face their rough spots. It helps us realize that it is OK to have help. We don’t always need to face things alone.

    I look forward to reading your 2 new books. I am sure the release of THE REBEL RANCHER will do well.

  2. Donna,

    I love this post! You’re books are so powerful, and I can’t wait for Ty’s story. But mostly I love this post, because it went straight to my heart. Writing saved me, as well, I don’t know what I’d do without it. Everyday I give thanks for the special gift and the stories and characters who bring me such joy.


  3. Patricia – you know, the fact that you don’t have to go it alone ends up being a theme in a lot of my books. 🙂

    Hi Bev! Missed seeing you on the weekend!

    And Kirsten – ah, a kindred spirit. 🙂 It really is a blessing, isn’t it? I love that I get to share it.

  4. Donna, thank you so much for sharing! I experienced severe post partum depression, and it can make you feel very isolated. Knowing that you’re not alone is a true gift.

  5. Donna,
    I loved your post. I really relate to it–I’ve always written, ever since I was a child, but stopped for a long time when real life came along. But I went through a time period when we were living in West Virginia when I believe it saved my life and my sanity, as well. My husband and I had not been married but about a year when his ex decided she wanted to go to college and sent their kids to live with us. At the same time, he got a job promotion which had him traveling over a huge area of the state as a technician in depth. He was only home on weekends. So I was suddenly a single mom of kids 7 and 10 who both had some severe emotional problems. I was working a full-time job, no support from anyone in his family, and trying to deal with problems that I’d never dealt with before with children–at that time, we had none of our own, and I had no experience. Every night, I would stay up and write for 2 – 3 hours after they went to bed. It was how I got through those days.

    Your cover is fantastic, and this looks like a wonderful story! I love our filly sisters too, and how everyone seems to bond and support one another! Can’t wait to read The Rebel Rancher!

  6. Donna,

    I love this post so much…It touche me so deep…See today is 8 months since my precious husband of 25 years passed away unexpectedly and the hurt will always be there…I love him so much….and miss him the same…

    I must get this book and read it….I know it will help me…Since you wrote it when you were in emotional stress….Thank you for sharing this….I love the cover….

    I have to get my hands on a copy of it….Its not in our stores here in Payson but I will order it off Amazon….

    Thank you again….for giving me a place to run off too and that will take the pain away for awhile….


  7. I forgot to say that I use writing as therapy to..I have four books published but I hope to one day be a Harlequin author….but writing is therapy for me too


  8. Melinda, thanks for dropping by, and sorry for your loss. I really think people underestimate the power of the written word and romance novels in particular. The world needs more positivity!

  9. I have started writing fiction after a long hiatus from non-fiction writing. The joy of fiction, at least the romantic kind I am writing,is the world can be going kaflooee and there is still a happy ending to focus on.

    But I also learn something every time I sit down at the keyboard. Why is this person reacting this way? Why am I connecting with the character? What am I working through with these words.

    This post is spot on. I needed the reminder!

    Peace, Julie

  10. Julie, I laughed at “kaflooee”. That’s exactly it!

    And Stella – thanks. Missed seeing you at the workshop last weekend and hope things are going better. 🙂

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