therapeutic writing

5 Ways Creative Writing for Wellbeing Can Help You.

Most people don’t really know what I’m talking about when I say ‘writing for wellbeing’, but it’s pretty simple: writing to feel good. I often descibe it as yoga for your creative muscles. So whether you’re a writer, a thinker, a day-dream believer, Creative Writing for Wellbeing has something to offer you.

1) You’re a writer

Perhaps you’re a novelist, or an academic. Maybe you’re feeling a bit swamped with work, a little overwhelmed? Perhaps the creativity isn’t flowing as you’d like it to? Try some fun and engaging activities to wake your brain up, get you thinking and creating again. How is that different to a standard creative writing workshop? Nothing to prove. The writing doesn’t need to be good. What matters is how you feel about the writing.

2) You’re stressed

Creativity is a great stress reliever, and play is ridiculously beneficial. So if the English weather is stopping you from running off the weight on your shoulders, why not write them away?

3) You don’t like writing

Most people who don’t like writing actually like stories. Watching movies, reading books, talking to people. These are all forms of stories. Often those who hate writing have a negative association with school and the dreaded red pen. There are no red pens in writing for wellbeing. There’s no wrong. No corrections on punctuation or grammer. Hell, you can draw your stories if you want! What matters is how you feel.

4) You’re a fan of mindfulness/yoga/meditation/self-help

You get what this is about, and here’s a new and exciting way to get down to the truth of you, discover new things, unearth lovely memories and come away with something you’ve created.

5) You’re stuck in your batcave.

Whether writer or not, sometimes it’s hard to motivate ourselves to get outside and interact with people, especially when now we can rely on technology. Writing for wellbeing is about connecting, to yourself and others. It can be really lovely to hear other’s stories, and will often awaken ones you thought you’d forgotten.

If you think you might like to give Creative Writing for Wellbeing a go, I’m running a workshop on Friday 22nd May, 6pm-8pm at Friern Barnet Community Library, as part of the Finchley Literary Festival. It’s only £15 and you can buy tickets HERE

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On Being Authentic (and how writing can help)

It’s hard to be ourselves, these days.

 

We are constantly seeking a place to validate our thoughts and feelings on paper, or on screen. To see those words, and have them responded to respectfully and emotively is often all we crave. To receive a few kind words of encouragement or understanding. But the power of social media today means that we misplace that intention into a great fizzing ball of everyone’s insecurities, hang-ups, stresses and day to day life.

We do not heal ourselves by writing about our dead cat on facebook. We open ourselves up to derision, insincerity and judgement. But to write in a private moment about how we feel about such things, about our day to day life, our losses- it is our moment of understanding in expressing these things that matters, not the reception.

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It is so expected that your realisations and thoughts should be public, to be related to or ignored, that people cannot even define what is important to them. The loss of self, of authentic voice is more prevalent on social media sites than anywhere else. I am sad today. Well, if I tell facebook, people will tell me to cheer up, if I use twitter I am limited to characters, perhaps I’ll text a friend and they will comfort me. Nowhere in this scenario is sitting down and using words to consider why you’re unhappy today. You are too busy trying to figure out if your feelings matter enough to be considered your ‘status’ or if they are appropriate for the medium you’re using. That is the power of private writing- or even of therapeutic writing that is shared- there is no inappropriate, as long as you are authentic.

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An Exercise in Connecting to the Authentic:

Take a moment to ‘check-in’ with yourself. How are you today? Do you feel good? What one word would sum up how you are right now? Say it aloud. Own it. It is surprising? Is there anything more to be said? Have you picked a word that gives little away, like ‘fine’ or ‘okay’? You don’t have to limit yourself, or be polite, you are just interacting with yourself. If you feel content, if you feel anxious, if you feel awful, all of these feelings are okay.

 

Take out a watch, or a timer on your phone. You’re going to do five minutes of ‘free-writing’. This means you will write whatever comes to mind, you won’t form it, you don’t have to worry about spelling or punctuation or sentences. Go with what feels right. Try and almost bypass the brain in this exercise, imagine your pen is connected to a delicate thread that goes up through your arm and into your centre. The pen connects with the subconscious, just let it do what it wants. Start with the word you used to define your state of being. Run with it. Write as much as you can, don’t stop, don’t edit, don’t look back, just keep writing.

Okay, so you’ve done that. Look back. Was that check-in how you really felt? Did anything become apparent? How do you feel? Writing this way, writing for ourselves, not for any validation, recognition, or to fill a space, is a powerful thing. There might not be any writerly ‘merit’ in the thing you have written, but if it feels honest and true to you, then that is merit enough. You may also find a phrase or word that you really like in there, and can use that to jump onto a more structured piece of work.

 

Authenticity is important- we are surrounded by the noise and pressure and expectations of others, things to do, places to go, how we should be, that sometimes we just need to centre ourselves again.

That is just one small and simple exercise in how writing can be therapeutic. Why don’t you try it out and let me know what you created? If you’re interested in the therapeutic possibilities of writing, remember I’m doing a Writing for Wellbeing Workshop in Barnet on Saturday 26th April. Email andrealmichael@aol.com for more details!

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Writing for Wellbeing in Barnet!

I’m very excited to share with you that my Writing for Wellbeing Workshop will be on Saturday 26th April, 10am-4pm at The Amber Lounge, Underhill Stadium, (EN5 2DN).

It costs £65 and includes a gorgeous lunch, as well as all the tea and coffee you can drink!

We’ll be using techniques derived from narrative therapy and autobiographical fiction to trace who we are, what stories we have to tell, and to have a greater appreciation for our own tales! Plus, increasing confidence and self-esteem by truly valuing the stories we’ve created!

For more info/to book, email andrealmichael@aol.com, or call Andi on 07708225688

 

 

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