Different kinds of writing can help our wellbeing depending on how we are feeling and thinking.
Writing to bring calm, relieve anxiety or stress – mindful writing is good for this and here are some examples:
1) Freewriting about the sounds around you, and what you can see, feel, taste and smell right now in whatever place you’re in;
2) I think of this as a writing meditation: choose a photograph of a beautiful place or landscape, or better still sit looking a real place that is beautiful or interesting, now write to describe what you see. DON’T add your thoughts, associations, feelings. Just write a description of what you see. If you are really there you could then describe the sounds, smells, etc., as well.
What to write if your thoughts are very negative just now:
If you write down your negative thoughts you may emphasise them in your mind. Instead write a story from your imagination; a poem based entirely on observation of the world about you; write in your journal/diary only about positive things and achievements – even if it is only “I got up today” or “I went to the shop to buy milk”; write about a happy memory such as a place you visited that you really loved or a memory of a happy time you spent with someone.
If you are confused about your own thoughts and feelings these are two powerful techniques you could try:
1) Freewriting – pick a random word, object or picture, think about it for a few seconds, then write for 2-6 minutes (you choose how long and time yourself). Write whatever comes in your head and don’t worry about spelling punctutation or grammar.
2) Write about a conversation or an event that just happened, but write in the third person. So instead of writing “I went to see…” I would write “Carol went to see…”
Suggestions for writing with people with Schizophrenia or people who are having a psychotic episode:
As well as the ideas mentioned above, metaphor, symbolism, poetry and word-play are good approaches to try. For example:
1) Draw a circle, a square, a triangle and a rectangle; write about what each shape means for you and your life right now;
2) Choose a word such as tree and think of metaphors for that word – as many as possible. Then write a poem that includes the words you listed as metaphors;
3) Choose 6 letters of the alphabet, then choose words that begin with each letter – 6 words for each letter. Now you have 36 words. Make up a story or a poem that uses each of the words once and once only.
If anyone would like me to suggest writing ideas for other states of mind that I haven’t mentioned here please let me know and I’ll see what I can come up with 🙂