Write Yourself Calm: Mindful Writing Exercises For Creative Focus is now launched and available here on Udemy.
On another writing course as student recently, I was reminded how many of we writers struggle to justify or feel we deserve the time to write. So here are five reasons why creative writing is good for you, the people around you and the planet…
1. You go into flow
Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi wrote a book called Flow, in which he describes and analyzes an optimum performance state, where we are utterly absorbed in our task, lose track of time and feel fufilled and satisfied when we take a break. We forget anxiety and worries during flow.
Creative writing helps many of us get into flow, though sometimes warm up exercises may be needed to forget the hoover, the accounts, the rest of the family…
2. You make sense of things
I know you’re all familiar with idea of a daily journal, with many writers creating morning pages as their first task of the day. Even if you don’t want to establish a regular journalling habit, having a good ‘dump-off’ of feelings periodically – especially during times of constant churn – can be cathartic.
Write an imaginary e mail maybe to the person bugging you most currently… or make a list of demands for action from them…You can turn on your inner dictator if you like and become completely unreasonable.
A favourite version here of this, is to doodle and write about an ideal future. These visions are fascinating to revisit a few years forward and review what actually happened.
‘Better out than in’ is the psychologist’s mantra for most things, and creative writing just for the heck of it, to express how we feel, can be most helpful in our making sense of things, and clarifying our own stories in our minds.
3. You get an ‘aha!’ connection
When we get to share our creative writing with others, all sorts of beneficial hormones can flood our brains, as we realise ‘Aha! I am not alone here…’
We might have to overcome shyness but it’s worth taking the plunge, through sites like Wattpad, various writing groups on Facebook, or perhaps an online course where you share work and feedback via zoom or other means. Writers helping writers is especially helpful.
A benefit of lockdown for writers has been a proliferation of these online opportunities to connect, wherever you are in the world.
4. You get to entertain people and they like you more
It’s a perennial question in writing, isn’t it?: how much do I write for myself and how much do I think about my audience? And as Kae Tempest says in her latest book, often the big task of a writer is to get out of the way of themselves – that is – stop their ego creating barriers between them and others.
So take a deep breath, use a nom de plume if needs be and get your creative writing out there. In cyberspace, no one can see you losing face, remember…
5. It can fuel your creativity in other areas
Confession time. I used to love drawing though I’m not very good at it. Very recently I went on a art course. The teacher said I was repeatedly drawing over lines because of a lack of confidence (true), and that my human figurative attempt looked like an alien (even truer).
While this was demoralizing at the time, since then I’ve reconciled myself to this lack of talent and thrown myself in to a writing project, with renewed vigour. My words will not be as wobbly as my pencil lines, ever!
When we feel frustrated at our current writing work-in-progress, we need to remember the seeds contained within may be most powerful germinators. So the next time you feel guilty about sneaking off to do some creating writing, just remind yourself how you and others can benefit from it. You’ve got my blessing!