If I could afford it, therapy would be preferable, but that would mean finding a decent therapist. I’ve had little luck with healthcare professionals, so when I heard therapists often suggest journal writing to those dealing with stress and anxiety, I thought I would give it a try.

It turns out journal writing isn’t my thing, so I moved on to writing novels. Murder-mystery novels, to be precise. This type of writing is helpful in several ways.

I Can Control the Outcome

I just finished my fifth novel, and as I wrote in my last article, I felt a little morose. However, a sense of accomplishment soon followed. Not just from finishing the book, but from the ability of my characters to solve the problems I put in their hands. As the author, I’m able to control the outcome, even though my characters can surprise me and take the story in a direction I never intended. But that’s part of the fun, and I learn something new along the way.

But as therapy, does it work? It’s safe to say that after ten years of writing novels, my mental status hasn’t changed, but I’m enjoying the process.

I Can Kill Off Any Problematic Characters

I write murder mystery novels because when I’m working a corporate gig and I’m feeling frustrated, I can always open my laptop and kill off a character that’s misbehaving. Since murder in real life is unacceptable, I use my imagination, think of someone I despise (several people in government come to mind), and get creative—and sometimes brutal—with a character’s death. My co-workers know this about me. In fact, some ask if I have killed them off yet. Some have suggested ways in which they could meet their untimely death. Yes, they’re just as sick as I am.

Good therapy? You bet!

I Can Work Out My Issues Through My Characters

Any issues I’m facing in my life, I can have one or more of my characters work them out for me. In fact, most of my characters have at least one of my flaws—one that nags at me or holds me back from fulfilling my dreams. They find a way around these failings and sometimes use them to their advantage. Of course, they have only one or two flaws, while I have a plethora! Still, my “therapy sessions” should have paid off by now. I guess I’ll just have to keep writing until I see some progress. I’ve heard successful therapy can take decades.

Starting a Novel Feels Like a Fresh Start

I will soon begin working on my sixth novel, the second in the D&K Mystery series. I’m unsure who will die first. There are always plenty of choices, but I’m keeping my options open until I see where my lead character takes me. She won’t be hard to follow because she’s a lot like me, having more than her fair share of flaws.

She could use some therapy.