13/12/2012 08:48 GMT | Updated 11/02/2013 05:12 GMT

Angry Writing

There's a lot of anger around.

You can see it in all kinds of different places. The bleeding head of a footballer attacked by a fan from the rival team. The overreaction of a driver when someone takes the parking space they saw as rightfully theirs. The comments at the end of random columns and blogs.

Just imagine if, instead of hurling a missile at the unfortunate footballer, his attacker had taken himself and his anger off to a quiet place and written about how he felt. The result would have almost certainly made dark and unpleasant reading - and of course the whole scenario is screamingly unlikely.

A less extreme example perhaps is the kind of vitriol often produced by those who take the time and trouble to comment on what others have written. Many - not all, by any means - are obviously highly competent writers. What if, instead of sniping at written words, they wrote a lot of really good words themselves? It might be a book - a bestseller even. It might be absolutely bloody brilliant.

It's easy to dismiss the angry ones as nutters, morons or psychos. But I find myself reflecting on the odd time that - in common with a great many people - I have behaved irrationally, or out of character, simply because of what life was dishing out to me at the time. When a parent snarls an obscenity at their child in a busy shopping centre, we are shocked, of course. But that parent may be stressed beyond belief because the rent is due and they have no way of paying it. And they may be hungry. We can't possibly know what's going on in people's lives.

Over the years I've had a few good reasons to be angry. With others, with myself and with life. As I've got older, I've found that if, instead of screaming and raging at the world, I go running, or make a cake - or write, the end result can be at least a little bit positive, rather than horribly negative. And in five years of running a writer's retreat, I've seen the therapeutic benefits of writing over and over again.

Anger is a very energising emotion and it seems a shame to waste it on being cross. Better surely to channel any anger that happens along into creating something. Or building something. Or writing a book.

That last one takes a lot of energy.