We’re facing rapidly changing times at the moment, and this can lead to higher levels of anxiety and feelings of helplessness. But we can do something about them and writing is one powerful way to do that. Even if writing is something you’ve never tried before – or always wanted to, but just didn’t know where to start, I’m going to explain in this article how to begin.
- Writing our feelings down can help gain clarity.
- Expressing ourselves can make us feel ‘back in control’.
- Writing can be a cathartic activity which allows our fears and frustrations a space to be aired and ‘outed’.
But what if you’re not sure how to do that? If writing isn’t something you do regularly, is it as simple as picking up a pen, or typing on a keyboard?
Well, the simple answer is yes!
How to start
- Find your medium.
Writing can be done with pen and paper or on the computer. Even typing out a Facebook status can give us some clarity on things that are going on in our head. The trick is to find which medium is best for you, and then use that going forwards.
- There are no rules.
This can be really daunting – I mean there are NO rules to follow, and for some, this lack of instruction can be too vague and not structured enough. So what you can do is use prompts to start, I’ve included a few below.
- Write with no judgement or critic
Perfection is not the aim of this. In fact, the first couple of times it may seem strange and uncomfortable, so you need to leave your inner critic well away from anything that you write. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar – the aim of the game is to get your feelings, thoughts and emotions out on paper (or on the computer). No one is going to see this, so it’s not going to be judged by anyone.
- Don’t wait for inspiration – just start.
Waiting for inspiration or motivation probably won’t get you going. However, JUST starting with writing anything and see how you go. Even if you say, “I’m just going to write for one minute….” I bet you’ll write for longer.
What to write about
You can write about anything, but if you’re looking for stress relief then probably the best place to begin is with something like…
“Today I’m feeling stressed because….” And then let your hand do the rest. Write anything… don’t judge. Don’t be worried that your thoughts don’t make sense (they probably won’t to begin with) – this is to get your writing muscle activated.
And like with any muscle, the more you use it, the stronger it’ll become.
Things that might help…
- Environment; I find writing in coffee shops works for me, but unfortunately, this is now not an option. So my next place of choice is my sofa, either in my journal or on my laptop (but not my desktop computer – weird huh?) Find what works for you, and it might take you a few goes to find the right place.
- Time of day; I don’t have a particular preference, but I know some seasoned writers have set times of day they write best. In the book, The Artists Way morning pages is an exercise that you do first thing before you start your day. But remember there are no rules, so it’s whatever works for you. Don’t think that by writing for only 3 minutes in your lunch break isn’t considered ‘correct’ – this is all about being able to express yourself whenever it works for you.
- Background noise (or lack of); I tend to work in silence – however sometimes I can write with the TV on in the background. Again, there is no right or wrong, it’s whatever allows you to get your thoughts on paper.
The key is to keep it simple and give it a go. Don’t put any expectations on yourself and enjoy the process. It may feel a bit weird to start, but the idea is to get used to writing or typing… the content at the beginning is not really important.
Hopefully what you will find is that you gain more confidence, and you’ll begin to explore your feelings and emotions.
Remember, you’re NOT entering any competition, this is for you and you alone – taking away any expectation or judgement should break down any resistance to giving it a go. (And you never know, a new hobby might be born 😉 )
Prompts to help get started:
- What was the last present you gave someone?
- Write about the last thing you drank. What was it and how did it taste?
- Write about the messiest room in the house…
- What is the view from your bedroom window?
- Write about the last dream you had.
- Write yourself a letter telling yourself what you did yesterday.
- None of your friends remembers you, write about yourself.
- Expand the last text you sent into a story.
- Write about the last thing that made you laugh.
If you want more prompts then you can find a whole page of them here.