INTERNATIONAL writers have told how storytelling has helped them through their mental health issues.
The female writers, who are based across the world, now use their platform on Instagram to help others with creating stories.
One writer said she found the craft to be a form of ‘self-care’.
Croatian Char – who now lives in Scotland and has 109K followers – said: “Writing has helped my mental health tremendously! It gives me something to be passionate over and I regard writing as self-care.”
Another writer, US based Jessica, agreed: “Writing offers me a distraction from my problems and a way to escape. Writing helps me to keep going as I try to envision my book being published in my hands.”
Kimberly, also from America, said: “I often write poetry when I’m feeling down, and using metaphors and morphing my thoughts into something artistic lets me deal with my emotions in a relatively healthy way.”
American Therese added: “When I create a fictional world, it gives me something to place my creative energy in, which makes me feel like I’m doing something worthwhile. I also think the act of writing is just a fun process. I love playing around with ideas and words, so in general, writing just makes me happy.”
Studies have already shown that writing helps us improve our thinking. Jungian analyst and clinical psychologist Pinkola Estes said creativity is “our most valuable asset”. It has been said by Senior Occupational Therapist Tessa Perrin in 2001 that humanity would not be able to grow and develop if creativity was not an important part of writing as this is the essence of human existence.
The benefits of writing have been well documented as an experiment by psychologist and professor, James J Dillon in 2011. He wanted to find the psychological effects of writing an autobiography.
Dillon gave 122 students an assignment to write an autobiography. From the 122 students assessed, 105 said that writing the biography created a positive change and personal growth. From the 105 who experienced growth and change, 82% reported that the occupation of spiritual writing had “put them in touch with a dynamic and resonant force behind and within their lives that had helped give their lives new meaning, coherence and direction”.
The group of writers agree – and have given an insight into how they plan their stories.
Kimberly said: “I keep myself writing by planning my stories and reviewing the original outlines, which usually helps me channel the excitement I felt when starting the project.”
Jessica added: “Writing helps me to keep going as I try to envision my book being published in my hands.”
Writing is one of the oldest forms of human technologies. Storytelling started in the Palaeolithic era when stories were told using pictures drawn on stone by cavemen. In the 1880s, the first creative writing classes were offered at Harvard University and were very popular as 150 students enrolled in 1885. Since then, creative writing has grown rapidly.
The writers also have some advice for any wannabe writers.
Therese said: “For any new writers, I’d say: don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Just write for fun at first. There’s no need to get it published or write a bestseller novel. Enjoy what you do first.”
Jessica said: “My advice to any new writers is to try and focus on improvement over perfection, know that you’re in this for the long haul.”
Char said: “If you’re just starting out, I really recommend gaining as much clarity over your project as you can. You should have an outline before you begin, and you should consistently tweak it as you write. Not knowing where you’re going with the story is the most common reason for new writers to give up.”
Kimberly added: “To writers that are just starting out, keep going. Find a community and reach out to other writers because this can be a lonely hobby without support. You’ve got this!”