Writing

Writing Therapy, and How Harry Potter Drove Me to It

 

The official countdown started a few weeks ago.

We were exactly 507 hours, two minutes, and thirty-three seconds away from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I coming to “theaters everywhere” when the true mania set in.

Our household reads the books.  Watches the movies.  Wears the costumes.  Walks around quoting the advice of the late, great Albus Dumbledore in earnest. 

And, we follow it.

“It would be fun to see the premiere at midnight,” my daughter tentatively offered one evening.  In this case, “fun” was an understatement akin to Monica Lewinsky saying that she sometimes got a little behind on her laundry.

Yes, this request was no surprise. 

However, due to myriad issues both real (so the parents say) and imagined (so the daughter says), we decided it wouldn’t be a good idea to be out until 3:00am on a school/work night.  When my daughter found out that she had a test first thing the next morning, well…,even she (begrudgingly) granted that it might not be the best decision to take an exam while feeling like the walking dead.

She’ll have plenty of time to prove that theory when she goes to college.

We compromised by having a Harry-Potter-weekend sleepover with four extremely giddy and vocal teenage girls. We were “agreed,” and supposedly “cool.”  And, yet, we were not.  Not completely.

On Thursday night, hours before the premiere, I saw my daughter scribbling and doodling and writing in the margins of her papers with an unusually heavy hand.  This power-doodling has often appeared in some of the less joyous moments of her early teen life.  The happy writing is saved for actual notebooks. 

Whenever I see her angst-filled squiggles, it reminds me of an ad that used to appear in our city’s newspaper when Books was given its own section, and not just four inches on one page. 

“Writer’s/Writing Therapist” was all it said, along with a contact number.  

I often laughed about that ad — about the slash, and whether this writing therapist counseled on a leather couch, or a large-screen laptop.

I don’t doubt the validity of writing as a healing art.  Journaling is thought to be therapeutic — especially for those who have gone through traumatic experiences in their lives.  In truth, it can be helpful for anyone who wants to clear their heads, organize their thoughts, or simply take a moment to de-stress. 

Yet, I never thought to call this writer’s therapist, except to possibly interview her for an article.  I didn’t need counseling. Nope. 

But, at 11:50pm on Harry Potter’s Eve, I found myself thinking about Harry.  And, about disappointment.  I thought about parenting, and making decisions, and finding balance.  I thought about the future. 

And, then I started to write. 

It occurred to me that I was already in counseling: Can’t sleep? Write.  Feel better.  I’m my own best therapist, and the bill is cheap.

And, at 12:01 a.m. on Potter Friday, I was awake writing this post.

We’ll be at the midnight premiere of Part II this summer…

*Find me on Twitter @amandahoving

30 thoughts on “Writing Therapy, and How Harry Potter Drove Me to It”

  1. Even though I am a librarian (and a bookseller before becoming a librarian) I never bothered to read any of the Harry Potter books. People seem appalled for my lack of passion for Harry Potter, as a bookseller then and a librarian now. I still don’t understand the magic. There are so many interesting things to read in this world… I can’t bare to ‘waste’ my time and energy reading Harry Potter…

    People seem unhappy about the movie but not disappointed-whatever that means. Would love you hear what you think about it.

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    1. Thanks for commenting, kayochang, but…Oh my…that kind of talk would be blasphemous in my house 😉

      I took my two oldest to the movie on Saturday, and we LOVED it! So much, that we would have been happy to stay in our seats after the credits rolled and watch it a second time. It was dark, but appropriately so, stayed mostly true to the book, and had every element of human emotion covered — and covered well. I do think it might have been difficult to follow at some points if you didn’t read the books.

      I understand when people start reading the HP books, and find out they’re not for them. Everyone has different tastes in what they like to read. But, did you try them at all? Just wondering.

      What makes the writing so amazing to me, is that the story was mapped out from the beginning — from Book 1 to Book 7. Nuggets of story line, characters and information are fed to the reader slowly throughout the books, and then they all come together somehow. Truly brilliant plotting.

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    1. Hi Maura — see my comment above. LOVED it!

      And, thank you for the vote of confidence. All is well, and my daughter understood. It’s not fun being a parent sometimes, though.

      Like

  2. I have yet to go see the new Harry Potter film but that is on my list of things to do during Thanksgiving break.

    Writing really is the best form of therapy. Whenever I am completely overwhelmed I sit down and try to just write it all out. Even just listing off my experiences for the day or what I have coming up makes me feel much more in control.

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  3. I can relate…the night of the midnight show, my daughter was in a play that got out at 10pm, so she and her dad came over afterward…the next morning, she had an in-class essay, a matinee of the play, and another performance that night…
    which she did, on 1.5 hours of sleep.

    she and my son were both exhausted…and I “knew” theyd’ be when I bought the tickets…and almost regretted buying them…I mean…every bit of rest helps…

    was she tired? yes…we all were…

    I will “see” you in line for the summer show…I think the final movie of the final book of the HP series will be one I’ll want to stay up late for.

    🙂
    and, good for you for making the best possible decision you could for your girl. 🙂
    jane

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  4. We opted for the 9 a.m. show on Friday morning. Couldn’t make it to the midnight show, and figured it would be much too crowded with people talking. We’re purists when it comes to movies and don’t like crowds or people talking! Teen daughter loved it and I thought it was a bit slow compared to the others. Can’t wait till the final show. My daughter writes a monthly movie review in the local paper and wrote her review for HP: Deathly Hallows. It comes out next week!

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    1. I hear you on the crowds — we were lucky to get good seats, or I don’t think I would have lasted.

      How fun for your daughter to write her own column!

      Thanks for stopping by~

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  5. It’s funny how you never can tell what’s gonna give ya the kick to get back to writing…it just always works out in the end. Glad ya got back at it. Good luck!

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  6. Yes! Writing. The best therapy you can get for free. Actually, probably the best therapy you can ever get. You can write a real life monster down, then have it killed in your book. Now if that isn’t closure and peace, what is?

    I saw Harry Potter, is it just me or was it like super scary, even for adults. Oh and um, slightly pornographic. I don’t know if I would take my kids to see it, if I had kids. How did yours take it?

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    1. There were some scary parts, but I think they were probably a lot scarier for the people that didn’t read the books. And, er…pornographic? I think I know what part you’re talking about (and, I thought it was unnecessary), but my tween and teen just thought it was kind of goofy. It’s definitely not a movie for younger kids, and frankly, some of the trailers before the movie started were FAR worse than the movie itself!

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      1. lol, yeah I just think they should have kept their clothes on. And I’m a 25 year old with no kids, and I thought it was kinda shocking. Maybe because for me, Harry Potter is for the kid inside me to go and have fun, you know my innocent part of me, and so I was like woah, where did that come from. Also, because it wasn’t in the book. I still enjoyed it though. Excited for Part II!

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    2. I was just talking with my kids, since we saw it…girl is 16, boy is 13…regarding the risque portion, we all considered how the fears Ron has…are adult, just as he is becoming an adult.. I didn’t find it to be unnecessary, but for me, it cemented how they have changed through the years…how the fears they had as children are different than the fears they face going into adulthood. More troubling to me, overall, was the borderline abusiveness I saw in Ron, in how he spoke to Hermione…anyway, it IS pg-13, and it is Harry Potter, so of course it’s going to be scary…

      anyway…my two cents
      jane

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      1. Thanks for your two cents, Jane. I should rephrase my use of “unnecessary.” I agree that displaying the evolving fears was pertinent — just didn’t think it had to be more graphic than the novel suggested.

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  7. Amanda–
    oh, no worries! I’ve never read the books…so, my comments don’t represent what the book portrayed…for me, as a non-HP reader…it made sense.

    🙂
    blessings, lady
    jane

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  8. Good call, Amanda. Our oldest is 10 and didn’t know about the midnight screening, so that was lucky for us!

    I took her to see Harry Potter while my wife took the 4-year-old to see Megamind. I’d never read any of the books or seen any of the movies, and I thought I’d end up fiddling with my phone, but I thought the movie was pretty great.

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  9. David and I haven’t been to a movie since Avatar. You know, we just don’t like taking an infant and/or toddler to the theater. Plus, he would never sit still anyway so it would be miserable for us.

    Since we haven’t spent any money on movies, we decided to splurge and see Harry Potter in the “fancy” theater. Babysitting and ticket availability mean we won’t see it until tomorrow…and I’m stupid excited about it.

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  10. Hi Amanda.

    Fellow Harry Potter book lover here. I read them all, starting when my nephew did (he’s now almost 18). Sure some of the writing isn’t great but the ideas and the characters – so incredible. BUT – I don’t know when I want to let my children read them. My nephew kind of grew up with Harry – he had to wait for subsequent books to be published (as did I!) But my son (8) could start tomorrow and keep on going, so I’m trying to hold off for a few more years, as they definitely get darker as the series continues.

    (Curious about the risque comments above!!)

    Also – there is the fact the the HP books glamourize boarding school – now that I live in England (where boarding school remains popular) I’m not so keen on that aspect!

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    1. We had the same dilemma with my son (also 8). We told him he could start reading the books under the stipulation that he would have to stop for awhile after book 3. Of course, he motored through those first 3 like you wouldn’t believe, and is now waiting in agony.

      I completely understand about the boarding school thing…but, they’re not magical anymore. Are they? 😉

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  11. Ah…you hit it spot on Amanda. Writing is indeed therapeutic. Who ever denies THAT?

    But I don’t say this because I’ve read it or heard from others–I say this out of solid experience. Why, a year or so back I was writing just out of “flow”. At that time I was going through a rough patch in a relationship. And I can’t tell you how well I felt later on after each “session” or, writerly date, if you may. Even though I never realised it then, on retrospect, I do realise how much it meant. Perhaps that’s why I have a tendency to journal only when things get rough 😉

    Lovely post.

    And I can safely say good parenting, Amanda! Though I haven’t been a parent myself 🙂

    -BrownEyed

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