Leanne Dodd is a lecturer and PhD in Creative Writing at Central Queensland University, researching the transformative potential of creative writing, with qualifications in arts, education, mental health and communications. Under the pen name of Lea Scott, she has published three crime novels with developing themes of trauma. Leanne served on the Queensland Writers Centre Management Committee for six years, most recently as Chair, and is an appointed mentor for emerging writers. She has appeared on festival panels and facilitated writing workshops and seminars throughout Queensland. This research is supported by an Australian Government Research Training Program (RTP) Scholarship.

Turning the tide

A post-traumatic recovery journey framework for creative writers

While we can’t change the past, we can change the way we view the past and the story we tell about it, which can transform identity. This is the premise of narrative therapy. However, some writers choose to work with fictionalised traumatic experience because of the difficulty of exposing hidden subject matter in an autobiographical work. Creating a fictional work may allow reflection on traumatic experiences with similar emotional aftereffects, but with the emotional distance to be able to write with a deeper exploration of the subjects writers are reluctant to confront autobiographically. This article proposes that writing a fictional account of traumatic experiences might achieve similar benefits as the personal accounts relied upon in narrative therapy. It further deduces that the hero-journey model could provide a metaphor for writers to become the hero in their own post-traumatic growth journey through creative writing. The culmination of this article is a mapping of the commonalities between White’s maps of narrative therapy steps and Campbell’s Hero’s Journey stages, and a case study of how this framed my post-traumatic journey through creative writing. This framework may be useful for other creative writers embarking on a similar writing journey for post-traumatic recovery.