Creative Writing and Mental Health

Mind Waves are currently running a series of weekly creative writing workshops on creative non-fiction and life writing. I thought that this week it would be interesting to take a look at the positive effects that creative writing – or any kind of creativity can have on mental health. 

Ernest Hemingway said “Write hard and clear about what hurts.” I definitely think there is some truth to this. Writing has been proven to have a positive affect on mental health. It can increase awareness of our feelings and act as a sort of purging of negative emotions, which can bring clarity and acceptance. Although it is important to remember that there is no such thing as a quick fix when it comes to mental health. Creative writing and other forms of creativity are just some of the many ways to manage your feelings.

Writing can also take our mind away from negative feelings and act as an escape from real life. Writing fiction especially can be a useful tool to busy your mind. Sometimes, I think that we forget how much of a burden poor mental health can be for us. Escaping into a fictional world can release this tension, even for a short while.

Reading or watching TV can also be a great way to distract your mind from negative feelings. Consuming creative work made by someone else can bring all of the benefits of being creative, without the negative aspects. I personally have a few films and TV shows that I find comforting, and I turn to these when I’m having a hard time and I don’t feel creative myself.

The most recent episode of the Mind Waves podcast (which you can listen to by clicking here) discusses the positive and negative aspects of creativity. Chris Timmins talks about his battle with perfectionism and creativity. Sometimes, we can get so caught up in the high standards we put on ourselves that being creative comes with added pressure and negative feelings. Remember, creativity should always be for you first and foremost. Create things that make you feel good and don’t compare your work to anybody else. Be kind to yourself and do things that bring you joy.

To end this blog post, I’ll include a quick writing prompt that aims to induce mindfulness and relaxation. This particular prompt is taken from the first of the Mind Waves creative writing workshops. Get comfortable, fetch yourself a glass of water or a cup of tea, and take a break from the pressures of the day by being creative

Go for a walk around your flat, or wherever you are. Pick things up and look in nooks and crannies. Find something that sparks a memory. Write about that memory. Have the first sentence be:

“It started with the…”

Set a timer for ten minutes, and get going!


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