‘I can shake off everything if I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.’
Many of us use the written word in our daily lives – crafting emails, social media posts, shopping lists and more. Writing for wellbeing, however, is not like other types of writing. In this toolkit, you’ll be using words for discovery, self-development and growth.
Writing in this way can bring about a whole host of benefits. We can uncover new insights about ourselves and the world around us. We can find motivation, inspiration and relaxation. This toolkit will give you a taste of the different writing techniques available.
You may be exploring other self-help techniques to improve your work life already. We believe that the best way to bring about change is to use a mix of approaches. From experience, we know that writing is an excellent tool for personal development and growth. It isn’t a magic bullet, but it can be a hugely valuable addition to your self-help collection.
At this point, it is important to say that writing for wellbeing is most effective when approached with a ‘self-care’ mindset. Below is a set of guidelines that we urge you to follow. Please read them through carefully before you continue.
Write without judgement
The writing you do here is for your benefit. You do not need to share it with anyone else or worry about what others might think. Equally, make sure that you are kind to yourself too! Try to leave your inner critic somewhere else.
Spelling, punctuation, grammar and handwriting do not matter here. The important thing is to get your words down on the page. How you present them is up to you!
Write from the heart
Writing for wellbeing is most powerful when you come at it from a place of authenticity. Being honest with yourself can help to reveal insights that will prove useful over the longer term.
Monitor your emotions
Writing can be a powerful tool for self-discovery and empowerment. It can help you to order your thoughts, make sense of your feelings and uncover new and useful insights about the world. However, it can also open up unresolved emotions and lead you into difficult emotional territory. This might happen when you least expect it, so check in with yourself regularly. If you start to feel uncomfortable while doing any of the activities in this toolkit then put your writing to one side and focus on a positive, self-care activity instead. You might like to try this short grounding activity.
Trust the process
Writing for wellbeing can seem unfamiliar to start with. However, unless you start to feel uncomfortable or overwhelmed, do see the activities you choose through to the end. You may be pleasantly surprised by the results!
We highly recommend that you keep the guidelines above in mind as you write. Before you start each new activity, you’ll see a guidelines reminder which will offer a quick refresh. Above all, keep yourself safe. Being kind to yourself and being mindful of your emotions will help you to get the most out of your writing.
What to Expect
This toolkit is based on our Writing for Life workshops. In this taster version we’ll share a variety of techniques, including:
- Writing from sentence stems
- Exploring lists
- Free writing
- Responding to poetry
- …and more.
This mix of techniques will give you an insight into the flexibility of writing for wellbeing. Some of the activities will resonate with you more than others. Feel free to focus on the ones that seem most relevant. You might like to try a few of the activities more than once – it’s likely you’ll get slightly different results each time!
The writing exercises are grouped into five key topics: ‘Navigating Change’, ‘Renewing Motivation’, ‘Restoring Balance’, ‘Building Flexibility’ and ‘Practising Self-Care’. Choose one which feels relevant for you and start from there.
Under each topic you’ll find three writing activities of varying lengths. Here’s an indication of how long you might like to set aside for each type:
Short: 5-10 minutes
Medium: 10-20 minutes
Long: 20-30 minutes
These are only suggested time frames and it’s entirely up to you how long you spend on each activity. You can also choose how many activities you try and in what order. To ease yourself in, you may wish to start off with a shorter one.
All you need to get going is a pen and some paper. These do not have to be anything special, but you might like to use a notebook so you can keep and easily refer back to your writing.
If you’d rather use a laptop or mobile device that’s fine, although you might be interested to know that the physical act of handwriting has been shown to have benefits for both the mind and the body.
Whichever activities you feel drawn to, we hope you find them useful.
Remember to be kind to yourself and stay safe.
Kate & Heather