Why writing for wellbeing is not self indulgent

Hey gang! I’m back!

I was off running workshops at Larmertree Festival this past weekend, and it reminded me how much I love running writing for wellbeing activities. Using writing to become introspective, to look at yourself through metaphor, to explore and re-inhabit your good memories…it all feels rejuvinating.

My favourite one this weekend was Letters to the Moon, where we explored different memories and symbols of the moon in celebration of the Moon Landing anniversary.

My other session was called Wild Words, and it was about exploring inner wildness – the prompts were about what ‘wild’ meant to you, and making a wild promise to yourself.

One of the participants, perhaps expecting a more traditional writing workshop, said that writing about her own feelings felt ‘self indulgent’.

This is one of the main lies of the inner critic when it comes to writing – you have nothing to say that’s worth listening to. You aren’t having thoughts that haven’t been had a hundred times before.

I am here to tell that critic to shut up. In fact, I’m here to tell you the opposite: writing your feelings is not only NOT self indulgent, it’s NECESSARY.

If you need to process things, if you haven’t got another outlet for exploration, if you don’t know how you feel about yourself, your life, your dreams…writing can help!

I’m an introvert, so as well as finding the festival quite intense this weekend, I took the opportunity to write my way around some thoughts and issues I was having. I’ve been quite low energy and ‘off’ over the last few weeks and having the opportunity to start a dialogue with my inner critic, to ask her what’s up and what I’m struggling with was really helpful.

So here’s my response: writing about yourself, from your perspective, about your feelings is NOT SELF INDULGENT. The same way that going for a run, eating something that makes you happy, having a long bath, chatting with your best mates or turning up for therapy is NOT SELF INDULGENT. It’s self care. It’s showing up for yourself and acknowledging that you have something to say.

So whether you’re writing a book, a diary, a poem, a to do list…do it because you have something to say!

And if you’d like to do one of the activities we did, start with:

‘I am wild like a ……….’

Feel free to share how you find the activity, or what you think about ideas of writing and self indulgence. Do you feel guilty taking the time to write? Do you worry about the value of your words?

The quickest way to write for gratitude

In need of a serious change of perspective? A boost of energy, a way to shake off the cobwebs and start seeing clearly again? A quick writing task can help with that!

When we talk about therapeutic writing, we often talk about writing in a workshop environment, facilitated by someone who knows how to hold the room and give structure and space to the activities. We talk about writing that releases creativity and allows for story, narrative and realisations of things you might not have acknowledged before.

And it can be a bit magic.

But what if you don’t have time for that? What if you just want to do something to shut up that anxious, listless voice in your head?

What you want is a little gratitude.

I find gratitude tends to solve almost all my problems…

So here’s the writing task:

  1. Get a lovely blank piece of paper, ripe with possibility.

2. Get yourself something to keep time, a stopwatch on your phone or an egg timer if you’re particularly old fashioned.

3. Put a glorious 60 seconds on the stopwatch.

4. You are going to write, non stop, for 60 seconds. You’re not going to give yourself enough time to think. You hand with your pen or pencil is going to completely bypass your brain. It’s you and the paper, that’s it.

5. Ready? You’re going to write a list. A list of every single thing you can think of to be grateful for in your life. Go!

So, how did it go? Did you find your list started with all the big and important stuff, but you ended up with smaller, detailed things you barely notice day to day? Did you find it easy or difficult? Was there anything unexpected?

How do you feel now, knowing you have this great honking list of things to be grateful for? Do you feel blessed? Calm? Loved? Or do you feel like you need to treat yourself and enjoy those things, surrounding yourself in even more gratitude?

Let me know in the comments how you found it!