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Writer's Respite

Advice, tips and helpful hints to help you on your publishing journey.


‘There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.’

  • Maya Angelou

The act of putting pen to paper has been used for centuries to capture thoughts and feelings. Now studies suggest that as little as 20 minutes of writing could improve both physical and mental health. Writing is a versatile therapeutic tool that can be used by individuals to define their emotional state. Therapists frequently use journaling as part of their counseling toolkit. Here are a number of ways in which writing can boost your well-being.

Heal From Traumatic Or Stressful Experiences

Writing about traumatic events for as little as 15 minutes over 5 sessions leads individuals to report a variety of health benefits. Mental health benefits include fewer stress-related incidents or depressive episodes, while physical health ranges from lower blood pressure to better immune system functions. Capturing that traumatic incident on paper can help you heal in a number of ways.

See Things From A Different Perspective

Jotting down your feelings and recounting events can help you see things in a different light. As you write down events that had negative connotations, perhaps it's easier to see the positives of a, particularly bad experience. You might find you discover something new about yourself or even see the situation from a different perspective. Writing therapy provides a reflective element that allows you to re-evaluate certain life events.

Express Yourself In A Clear Way

When we feel down, it can be difficult to share our feelings. Writing allows you to express yourself in a clear way, and clarify what is bothering you. As you begin writing as therapy, you can also spill out your innermost thoughts onto a page in a free manner. Speaking about your feelings can be daunting, and you may fear judgment from people. Writing is a good starting point to help you get to the crux of your emotions in a clear way.

Reap The Health Benefits

Writing for a short period of time can boost your physical wellbeing too. Writing therapy participants report better lung and liver function and a higher functioning immune system. Patients with long-term IBS that participated in writing therapy reported reduced symptoms and in general had fewer hospital trips or GP visits. Research shows that writing is actually good for your physical health.

Improve Your Memory

Writing is an excellent way to improve your cognition and memory. It stimulates the brain and can improve focus, problem-solving skills, and reasoning capabilities. Studies show that writing on paper can lead to improved memory recall. Putting pen to paper has a variety of cognition benefits that train your brain to act more quickly.

Writing as therapy can help clarify your emotions, recover from traumatic events and train your brain to be more agile. Yet the physical benefits are also extremely important - from a reduction in stress-related health conditions to improved liver function. Writing as therapy can help our brains and bodies feel better.

Writer’s‌ ‌block‌ ‌is‌ ‌for‌ ‌real.‌ ‌You‌ ‌kind‌ ‌of‌ ‌feel‌ ‌embarrassed‌ ‌how‌ ‌you‌ ‌are‌ ‌being‌ ‌defeated,‌ ‌literally‌ ‌by‌ ‌a‌ ‌blank‌ ‌page.‌ ‌It's‌ ‌crushing,‌ ‌annoying,‌ ‌exhausting‌ ‌and‌ ‌hilarious‌ ‌all‌ ‌at‌ ‌the‌ ‌same‌ ‌time.‌ ‌When‌ ‌you‌ ‌are‌ ‌so‌ ‌fresh‌ ‌out‌ ‌of‌ ‌ideas,‌ ‌that‌ ‌you‌ ‌sit‌ ‌and‌ ‌state‌ ‌at‌ ‌the‌ ‌page‌ ‌for‌ ‌an‌ ‌hour‌ ‌or‌ ‌more,‌ ‌it‌ ‌makes‌ ‌you‌ ‌re-evaluate‌ ‌life.‌ ‌But,‌ ‌you‌ ‌shouldn’t‌ ‌resort‌ ‌to‌ ‌eating‌ ‌bags‌ ‌and‌ ‌bags‌ ‌of‌ ‌chips‌ ‌and‌ ‌dip.‌ ‌You‌ ‌should‌ ‌instead,‌ ‌seek‌ ‌better‌ ‌mining‌ ‌skills.‌ ‌‘Mining‌ ‌for‌ ‌ideas’‌ ‌as‌ ‌the‌ ‌hip‌ ‌cool‌ ‌kids‌ ‌in‌ ‌New‌ ‌York‌ ‌high-rises‌ ‌call‌ ‌it,‌ ‌is‌ ‌when‌ ‌you‌ ‌do‌ ‌a‌ ‌deep-dive‌ ‌into‌ ‌your‌ ‌mind‌ ‌to‌ ‌figure‌ ‌out‌ ‌what‌ ‌issues‌ ‌and‌ ‌topics‌ ‌you‌ ‌should‌ ‌write‌ ‌about.‌ ‌ ‌ Make‌ ‌it‌ ‌personal‌ ‌ Whenever‌ ‌you‌ ‌care‌ ‌about‌ ‌something,‌ ‌it‌ ‌shows!‌ ‌There’s‌ ‌no‌ ‌doubt‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌world,‌ ‌that‌ ‌when‌ ‌you‌ ‌are‌ ‌really‌ ‌passionate‌ ‌about‌ ‌something,‌ ‌you‌ ‌tend‌ ‌to‌ ‌write‌ ‌better.‌ ‌You‌ ‌care‌ ‌about‌ ‌the‌ ‌people‌ ‌involved,‌ ‌the‌ ‌subjects,‌ ‌the‌ ‌impact‌ ‌a‌ ‌topic‌ ‌has‌ ‌on‌ ‌you,‌ ‌which‌ ‌will‌ ‌always‌ ‌show‌ ‌in‌ ‌your‌ ‌writing‌ ‌style.‌ ‌So‌ ‌find‌ ‌a‌ ‌topic‌ ‌that‌ ‌either‌ ‌you‌ ‌have‌ ‌personally‌ ‌been‌ ‌involved‌ ‌in,‌ ‌or‌ ‌affected‌ ‌by‌ ‌and‌ ‌select‌ ‌that.‌ ‌You‌ ‌may‌ ‌also‌ ‌find‌ ‌that‌ ‌one‌ ‌or‌ ‌two‌ ‌articles‌ ‌aren’t‌ ‌enough.‌ ‌You‌ ‌may‌ ‌need‌ ‌to‌ ‌make‌ ‌a‌ ‌new‌ ‌series‌ ‌of‌ ‌articles‌ ‌to‌ ‌fully‌ ‌express‌ ‌your‌ ‌ideas.‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ Go‌ ‌across‌ ‌borders‌ ‌ Sometimes,‌ ‌the‌ ‌best‌ ‌journalists‌ ‌or‌ ‌writers‌ ‌have‌ ‌chosen‌ ‌to‌ ‌go‌ ‌where‌ ‌their‌ ‌counterparts‌ ‌will‌ ‌not.‌ ‌A‌ ‌topic‌ ‌that‌ ‌is‌ ‌outside‌ ‌of‌ ‌your‌ ‌country,‌ ‌maybe‌ ‌feminist‌ ‌issues‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌Middle‌ ‌East,‌ ‌or‌ ‌corruption‌ ‌in‌ ‌Asia,‌ ‌maybe‌ ‌green‌ ‌energy‌ ‌in‌ ‌third-world‌ ‌countries,‌ ‌something‌ ‌or‌ ‌other‌ ‌that‌ ‌isn’t‌ ‌so‌ ‌‘local’‌ ‌to‌ ‌your‌ ‌audience‌ ‌would‌ ‌be‌ ‌better.‌ ‌Consider‌ ‌researching‌ ‌some‌ ‌ideas‌ ‌that‌ ‌are‌ ‌important‌ ‌to‌ ‌another‌ ‌country‌ ‌and‌ ‌culture‌ ‌and‌ ‌see‌ ‌if‌ ‌you‌ ‌can‌ ‌become‌ ‌passionate‌ ‌about‌ ‌their‌ ‌plight.‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ Cover‌ ‌it‌ ‌again‌ ‌ Never‌ ‌be‌ ‌afraid‌ ‌to‌ ‌revisit‌ ‌a‌ ‌topic.‌ ‌You‌ ‌should‌ ‌never‌ ‌feel‌ ‌as‌ ‌if‌ ‌you‌ ‌need‌ ‌to‌ ‌give‌ ‌your‌ ‌readers‌ ‌ something‌ ‌new,‌ ‌each‌ ‌and‌ ‌every‌ ‌time‌ ‌they‌ ‌open‌ ‌your‌ ‌blog.‌ ‌It's‌ ‌going‌ ‌to‌ ‌make‌ ‌you‌ ‌burn‌ ‌out‌ ‌so‌ ‌ much‌ ‌quicker‌ ‌when‌ ‌you‌ ‌try‌ ‌to‌ ‌be‌ ‌unique‌ ‌all‌ ‌the‌ ‌time.‌ ‌Explore‌ ‌it‌ ‌from‌ ‌a‌ ‌different‌ ‌angle‌ ‌or‌ ‌just‌ ‌ update‌ ‌the‌ ‌reader‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌issues‌ ‌you‌ ‌covered‌ ‌from‌ ‌last‌ ‌time.‌ ‌Obviously,‌ ‌try‌ ‌to‌ ‌make‌ ‌it‌ ‌interesting‌ ‌and‌ ‌not‌ ‌just‌ ‌a‌ ‌repeat‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌same‌ ‌talking‌ ‌points.‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ Keep‌ ‌reading‌ ‌ We’ve‌ ‌talked‌ ‌about‌ ‌‘keep‌ ‌writing’‌ ‌when‌ ‌you‌ ‌are‌ ‌stuck,‌ ‌but‌ ‌we‌ ‌also‌ ‌recommend‌ ‌you‌ ‌keep‌ ‌ reading.‌ ‌Whether‌ ‌it‌ ‌be‌ ‌fiction,‌ ‌non-fiction‌ ‌or‌ ‌even‌ ‌the‌ ‌newspaper.‌ ‌Keep‌ ‌your‌ ‌mind‌ ‌hunting‌ ‌for‌ ‌a‌ ‌good‌ ‌topic,‌ ‌learn‌ ‌about‌ ‌various‌ ‌topics‌ ‌that‌ ‌aren’t‌ ‌immediately‌ ‌interesting‌ ‌to‌ ‌you.‌ ‌You‌ ‌never‌ ‌know‌ ‌when‌ ‌a‌ ‌story‌ ‌that‌ ‌seems‌ ‌mundane‌ ‌is‌ ‌going‌ ‌to‌ ‌suck‌ ‌you‌ ‌in;‌ ‌and‌ ‌give‌ ‌you‌ ‌the‌ ‌inspiration‌ ‌to‌ ‌follow‌ ‌it‌ ‌further.‌ ‌ ‌ Talk‌ ‌about‌ ‌it‌ ‌ Talking‌ ‌about‌ ‌writer’s‌ ‌block‌ ‌is‌ ‌nothing‌ ‌to‌ ‌be‌ ‌ashamed‌ ‌about.‌ ‌It‌ ‌doesn’t‌ ‌mean‌ ‌you‌ ‌aren’t‌ ‌as‌ ‌ talented‌ ‌or‌ ‌able‌ ‌to‌ ‌work‌ ‌using‌ ‌your‌ ‌own‌ ‌initiative.‌ ‌Far‌ ‌from‌ ‌it‌ ‌actually.‌ ‌It's‌ ‌a‌ ‌sign‌ ‌that‌ ‌you‌ ‌want‌ ‌to‌ ‌work‌ ‌through‌ ‌a‌ ‌speed‌ ‌bump‌ ‌that‌ ‌others‌ ‌simply‌ ‌ignore‌ ‌and‌ ‌end‌ ‌up‌ ‌producing‌ ‌sub-par‌ ‌work.‌ ‌Speak‌ ‌about‌ ‌it‌ ‌with‌ ‌other‌ ‌writers,‌ ‌or‌ ‌your‌ ‌boss‌ ‌and‌ ‌see‌ ‌if‌ ‌you‌ ‌don’t‌ ‌get‌ ‌given‌ ‌some‌ ‌good‌ ‌advice‌ ‌0n‌ ‌how‌ ‌to‌ ‌combat‌ ‌it.‌ ‌ ‌ ‌It's‌ ‌hard‌ ‌to‌ ‌always‌ ‌produce‌ ‌your‌ ‌best‌ ‌work.‌ ‌Quality‌ ‌control‌ ‌as‌ ‌writers‌ ‌is‌ ‌up‌ ‌to‌ ‌us‌ ‌but‌ ‌we‌ ‌must‌ ‌not‌ ‌put‌ ‌the‌ ‌bar‌ ‌too‌ ‌high‌ ‌so‌ ‌we‌ ‌never‌ ‌reach‌ ‌it.‌ ‌As‌ ‌long‌ ‌as‌ ‌we‌ ‌are‌ ‌trying‌ ‌to‌ ‌mine‌ ‌for‌ ‌ideas‌ ‌and‌ ‌work‌ ‌through‌ ‌a‌ ‌block,‌ ‌we‌ ‌are‌ ‌doing‌ ‌ourselves‌ ‌justice.‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌

There aren’t many words to describe the events of 2020, not least for the mass movements, one particular world leader’s disaster of a final year in office and of course Coronavirus. Yes, the scourge of the 21st century, the worst plague of modern times and a force so great it has kept most civilised people locked away in their homes.

With his own very unique view of the world, everyone’s favourite cubist artist extraordinaire, Pablo Picasso said that ‘Without great solitude, no serious work is possible’. Of course, while forced isolation is not quite the same as self-imposed solitude, time waits for no man and should not be wasted.

Like a special birthday off work or a well-earned scheduled holiday, the best use of one’s time could be used for deep inner reflection. One of the greatest writers of our time Deepak Chopra had this to say: ‘Yes, in all my research, all the great leaders looked inwards and were able to tell a good story...’

For all the horrors that the worldwide pandemic has brought to the fore, it isn’t the end of the world and the worst might be past us. As we use our time in isolation, we could reflect on the past, the present or the future.

One’s failings could be considered but it isn’t really the past that defines who we are, it is what we do right now with our conscious choices. That is the only moment where we have any real control. The past cannot be changed and the future is unknowable.

Subscribing to Jung’s archetypes could offer some freedom in reflection. The persona is how we present ourselves to the world outside, and while reflecting upon this during isolation, it might be a good time to observe any changes that your persona might require.

Although we might be in an isolated state right now, this won’t last long. Perhaps your persona hasn’t been an accurate representation of yourself, because it rarely is. But ask yourself, can you make it better?

Knowing yourself even a little bit more will do wonders for your creative writing process, no matter your discipline. Be it non-fiction, fiction or ghostwriting, like any artist the culmination of all your works from beginning to end is a black and white representation of your true self.

Looking back at your life and work, you shouldn't be afraid to revisit the emotions you were feeling at the time. It might be a good idea to ask what was happening when you wrote a particular piece. Did the events of 9/11 affect your writing? If you are old enough to have been writing when Kennedy was assassinated, how did that change your style?

We might think that world events don’t affect us directly but they do. The collective unconscious, or “Zeitgeist” as it has become known, has a funny way of shaping world perception. Reflecting upon your work and your life right now during the worst pandemic since the Spanish flu will undoubtedly impact your future pieces as you and indeed all of us begin to put this behind us. Although the humanitarian impact of Covid-19 is tragic and horrific, you can use it. Inspiration comes in many forms and we may have just found an abundance.

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