What do you write down? For most of us writing involves task lists, shopping lists, a few social media posts and maybe some work emails. It’s easy to take writing for granted.
But experts say taking the time to jot things down can actually improve the quality of our lives. Writing about daily experiences, our ambitions and mental clutter can help us deal with our emotions,
clear our minds and dream a little.
It’s long been thought that scribbling down our negative feelings on a piece of paper or even into the notepad of your phone is a powerful way to get things off your chest. Researchers have more recently even proved that you can reduce stress and anxiety by writing down your happy thoughts.
Scientists on our own doorstep – from Northumbria University in Newcastle – found that writing for twenty minutes a day about a positive experience can also reduce common complaints such as headaches, back pain, coughs and colds. With so many things pointing to the power of the pen, why not get scribbling and see what you can do?
Ready, steady, write!
The greatest thing about writing is its simplicity.
- You can do it anywhere
- You can start right now
- No training or experience is necessary
- It can be done privately or you can share your work
- You don’t have to hold back. If you’re keeping your work to yourself you can say what you really think
- It’s free!
Margaret Miller - The Poet of Prudhoe
Margaret has become well known in her hometown for her poetry. She tells us of the joy writing brings to her and others.
“ I started writing poetry about a year ago out of boredom but it’s now become something I really enjoy doing. Other people seem to like it too and one of my poems was published in the newspaper.
I write about friends, family, neighbours and people I meet who are kind. It’s become a bit of a thing. I’ve written about the postman, the bin man and my local councillor. The lady in the fish shop even put her poem in a frame in the restaurant. She took a photo and put it on Facebook and I got lots of people phoning me to say they’d seen it – it was really nice.
I’m always jotting down the things that pop into my head and have scraps of paper lying everywhere! Anyone can do it and I’d encourage people to give it a go because it’s a lovely way to capture the feelings you have. You don’t know what you can do until you try.”
Margaret nominated Jane as a Lockdown Hero for her tireless efforts to help feed and entertain neighbours throughout quarantine.
Ways to write:
- Pen a poem or a short story. Lots of people find it easier to write about their emotions than to talk about them. Pour your feelings into your characters and see what happens! It’s National Poetry Day on 1 October and there are lots of free resources to get you started at nationalpoetryday.co.uk
- Try keeping a journal. Writing down your thoughts and feelings will give you a record of experiences you might have otherwise forgotten. Reading back through this can be fascinating and allows you to savour moments of happiness. It can remind you of how you’ve managed to handle tricky situations in the past so you can be more confident about doing so in the future. If you like drawing and doodling, a bullet journal is a fun idea. Equal parts day planner, diary and written meditation, the idea is to design your life on the pages.
- Write a letter to yourself. If you’ve not tried writing before, this can be a great way to start. It doesn’t have to sound professional or use smart words, just pretend to be writing to a friend you trust and describe your happiness, sadness, thoughts, stress or anger. You’ll feel so much lighter when you’re finished.
- Write down your goals. Do you want to make a change? Writing it down is the first step towards making it happen. Once you’ve written it down, display it somewhere you can see it for an extra boost.
- Brain dump! Too much going on to know where to start today? Try writing down every single thing on your ‘to do’ list to clear space in your brain. You can then work out what to do first and you’ll have cleared the way for more important thoughts.