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Creativity Writing

In praise of… Writing

Writing has always been my preferred form of expression. Articulating my thoughts as an essayist is one of my favourite things to do. I disappear behind the words I write and come alive with them too.

We should write because writing yields us a body of work, a felt path through the world we live in.

Julia Cameron, The Right to Write: An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life
Why do I write?

Writing has always been my preferred form of expression. Articulating my thoughts as an essayist is one of my favourite things to do. I disappear behind the words I write and come alive with them too. I realise this sounds paradoxical, so let me put it another way: it’s as if writing reveals certain aspects of myself I wouldn’t recognise without it. Writing helps to crystallize my thoughts and examine my feelings. Seeing my ideas spill out onto the page – transported from the mind at their inception (via hours of highly concentrated attention), before finally taking shape in their written form – is therapeutic for me. This process of translation, from ideas to words, prompts intense focus and a ‘flow’ state of mind. I am completely involved in the activity of writing for writing’s sake.

The act of writing also directs my awareness towards the reader. Publishing initiates a two-way process. “The Queen of Change” Julia Cameron, who brought creativity to the mainstream following the publication of her book The Artist’s Way, says this of self-publishing:

“I believe that our desire to write is a deep-seated human drive to communicate and that it is answered by an equally powerful human drive to be communicated to. In other words, for every writer there is a reader – or many readers.”

Julia Cameron, The Right to Write, 156-157.

In an existential-phenomenological sense, reading and writing are transactional; they evoke intersubjectivity. Many features of existential therapy (honesty, relationship, understanding our internal selves and accepting reality) play out between the reader and writer – with the page as intermediary. Both reader and author take benefit from its reflective powers and potential for introspection. If the goal of transactional analysis (TA) is to ‘re-write’ our ineffective existential life positions, perhaps through the physical act of writing we plant that first seed of change.

Writing connects us to our values. Essays can be carefully crafted in such a way that they make clear what is important – and this promotes self-direction and agency. The process of essay writing encourages balanced arguments too, so it tends to help with black-and-white thinking. I love vlogging as a medium (my lengthy list of Youtube subscriptions can attest to this), but I appreciate writing because it allows me to express myself in a subtler and more considered way than video would make possible. Producing shareable online content allows me to build connections with others and form a community of like-minded people.

Creating something out of nothing to publish online lets me practice the craft of writing. There is a part of me that wants to develop a ‘voice’, for want of a better phrase. In this sense taking up blogging is a creative opportunity – one not afforded by academic writing. It is also a learning exercise, for myself and others (apparently there is even such a thing as ‘blog psychology’). If blogging can bring some clarity to my experience, distilling my own self-care practices and personal insights, then it will (hopefully) validate your experience too.

Writing serves as a marker for mental health and wellbeing. When I’m feeling low or anxious my writing is effortful; it seems impossible to weed out the waste thoughts from those that have value. A practice called stream of consciousness journaling helps with this (I suggest you start by trying Cameron’s creative recovery tool Morning Pages). When I am well I write with more ease. Some sentences I arrive at spontaneously. Something suddenly awakens and my writing becomes vibrant and determined, just as flowers flourish in springtime. Like a mental muscle memory, my writing practice grows stronger and I am able to achieve a more natural, creative state of being (it is in this ‘flow state’ that I produce flowery descriptive paragraphs such as this one). However – and here comes another paradox – it is also delicate and needs nurturing. Those closest to me are all too aware of the extent to which I am prone to perfectionism. I can commit to an endless series of edits (in fact, this sentence is an edit!) if I do not enforce a deadline. I tend to overexert myself without consciously exercising some caution. Sometimes this is possible; at other times I must simply ride the productivity wave until it crashes. Either way, in ‘flow’ my mind is calm, clear and content. You could say my writing is in full bloom, because my mind is doing exactly what it is designed to do. By channelling my creativity through writing I am challenging my mind, which rewards me with a lasting sense of happiness.

What will I write about?

My intention is to write about things that support good self-care, health and happiness, with this theme of wellbeing woven throughout. I want to shed some light on the connections between mental health and other disciplines, such as philosophy and the arts. I will be considering my own interests from the perspective of popular culture and abstracting the lessons in relation to self-care and recovery, drawing upon insights from psychology and psychotherapy too . This is why I’ll be discussing topics such as as creative writing, films, health and fitness, literature, meditation practice, philosophy, photography, music, psychology, psychotherapy and visual arts. I wish to explore the common threads and create a coherent collection of essays that when stitched together can form a comforting blanket to warm the heart, soothe the mind and uplift the soul.

To that end, so it stays somewhat coherent, I have summarised my aims for this site in the following statements.

Vision

I want representations of mental illness to be more visible. I want to hear discussions about mental health sound more authentic and nuanced. I want them to come up naturally in everyday conversation. I want mental illness to be acknowledged as both complex and commonplace.

Mission

1) To create an online community based upon common connections (with one being an interest in mental health). 2) To promote wellbeing and recovery by bringing psychoeducation and peer support together.

Values
  • Creating content of value by sharing knowledge that supports awareness and self-care.
  • Contributing to the conversation by expressing my personal experience authentically and honestly.
  • Honouring my experience and the experience of others, recognising that they may not be the same.

Thank you for reading. Rosie xox

Photograph: Interflora.

By The Wellbeing Wordsmith

MSc Psychology student writing about wellbeing.

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