In this blog I’ll be discussing some of the benefits of creative writing for your mental health and alleviating stress.
Writing and being creative has provided an outlet for many people across the ages. Creative writing can be a journey of self-discovery and a release for individuals.
I have personally found that freewriting can be a hugely beneficial and therapeutic process. Being able to write freely without worrying where it is going or who might read it is a refreshing experience. It’s a perfect way to let my thoughts and feelings spill out onto the page without stopping to censor myself or mither over the details such as grammar and punctuation or whether or not it’s any good. Freewriting is simply an act of allowing the creative process to flow like water from a tap and freeing the mind of constraints.
You can even use your fictional characters to explore ideas and themes that you might find hard to deal with. For me I often write about dysfunctional family life or death as these are things that have had a huge impact on my life and fiction can be my safe way of playing out scenarios and ideas. This is something we can do as both a writer and reader, and an important reason not to shy away from strong or difficult subject matters and themes when writing for children.
Find spaces to write that inspire or uplift you. If you write in a room without a window, or without a good view you can always use posters or postcards and photos that might trigger ideas and help you to write. The subject of writing spaces is something that I’m passionate about and finding little corners or spaces to write fills me with joy and can help energise my writing. Just the same as getting out and away from a desk, writing at a park or in a café etc. can really benefit your health and well-being, and in turn your creative output.
Some of the benefits from writing for yourself or others:
Creative writing had been linked to reduced levels of stress, health and well-being and an improved mood.
Declutter your mind. Committing words and thoughts to paper allows your mind to relax which can then lead to new ideas and long-term health benefits.
Freewriting or journaling can be a fantastic outlet to help formulate feelings, thoughts and ideas for creative projects coherently.
Even writing just a few words every day or at regular times throughout the week can be hugely uplifting.
Set yourself easy to reach word targets so you know you can achieve them. This boosts positive outlook and in turn creativity which usually leads to more writing!
Writing can be quite addictive and help you become fully immersed in a particular aspect of your writing, maybe a topic, character or tricky scene that you might have been struggling with. The flow from immersive writing can be similar to being in a state of meditation and reduces stress and anxiety.
Writing helps preserve memories and emotions that you can look back on or use as a marker.
Writing strengthens imagination.
You can use your writing for therapy, but it’s also a fun way to boost your mental well-being.
Whatever creative activity you’re doing, think about why you are doing it. Don’t push yourself to do things if it’s making you feel unhappy, though sometimes the act of creating can evoke deep feelings that can sometimes be uncomfortable and this is all part of the process.
Most importantly, be kind to yourself and enjoy being creative 😊
Suggested further reading and relevant links:
Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig – Matt uses his writing to help explore and share his own struggles with mental health, this is also filtered throughout many of his fictional characters too.
A book that won’t be for everyone but I’ve found using and inspiring is Big Magic – Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert.
This is a link to a short BBC video on How Stories Shape Our Minds, and mentions identifying with fictional characters as mentioned above: https://www.bbc.com/ideas/videos/how-stories-shape-our-minds/p07h9t70?playlist=made-in-partnership-with-the-open-university
An interesting article on The Therapeutic Benefits of Writing a Novel: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/discover-your-truth/201706/the-therapeutic-benefits-writing-novel
I am represented by Laura West at David Higham Associates. My writing is featured in many different magazines, anthologies and online, and I am currently revising a chapter book for submission.I won the Urban Retreats six month novel writing course scholarship in 2018, ‘Off the Page’ competition judged by Hodder & Stoughton, honourable mentions and placing in other competitions including being a Mslexia Children’s Novel Award longlistee in 2019.Living in Wolverhampton, gives me the perfect mix of rural and urban landscapes to influence my writing. I live with my husband, stepson, three boys, one daughter, two mischievous kitties and the youngest family members, Doris and Malcolm, our chickens. My background is in Fine Art, and later working with children in various jobs. Now I’m also an editor and mentor with Wonder Writers, one half of YouTube writerly duo, Word Witches and creator and host of writerly chat on Twitter #ukteenchat.