We have all had moments in our lives when daily life has been difficult to cope with, especially in the last year when the whole world seems to have been turned upside down. You open a newspaper, or website and everything in the news seems dark and gloomy, and there doesn’t seem to be much light at the end of the very long tunnel, but there are ways to cope with the negative emotions we find ourselves immersed in.
There are plenty of studies out there telling us being creative is a good way to process our emotions in a positive manner, but what about those of us who don’t believe we are artistic? I can’t draw or paint, at all and while I enjoy listening to music, I certainly couldn’t create it myself. Any attempts at such endeavours end up looking like the dog rolled in some mud and shook himself all over the paper, or in the case of music, would have the neighbours calling the police because it sounds like someone is strangling a cat. It is horrendous, but that’s ok – because, for those of us who can’t do art or sing, there is writing.
Experts are constantly telling us to talk about our feelings because it helps us process emotions we would otherwise suppress, but let’s be honest, we don’t all have friends who can be available all of the time to listen to every little emotion we are feeling, and even if they could, are they able to understand exactly what it is we are feeling? That’s where writing comes in handy.
Choose a format that works for you
There are so many forms writing can take, and everyone can do it. Whether it is poetry, storytelling, fan fiction, or a journal, we can all find a way to use words creatively to help us understand the world a little better. I am a terrible poet. I have always loved poetry, I’ve been reading it for as long as I can remember but I really can’t write it. But here’s the thing, it doesn’t matter. Creative writing doesn’t have to be something someone else thinks is worth publishing. It just needs to do something for you, a creative outlet for your benefit and no one else’s.
Fighting off Imposter syndrome
Imposter syndrome is the term used to describe the psychological phenomenon of intense feelings of self-doubt to the point where you feel like a fraud. While it can refer to someone’s personal life, it is usually their professional life that provokes these extreme feelings of inadequacy.
This phenomenon can affect anyone working in any field, but I find I hear about it more from people who are trying to make their way in a creative discipline. Artists are notoriously hard on themselves, but that is where writing for yourself comes in handy. If you are writing something just for you, it takes the pressure off and you won’t feel as though your words or your skill are being judged by anyone. With practice, your brain will notice an improvement over time. Whether you decide to share your efforts with the outside world or not, it doesn’t matter; in the beginning it is just for you.
A Beginner’s guide to poetry
When I was doing my degree, I remember my tutor telling me to start by writing a paragraph and then to attempt to separate the sentences into the different lines of a poem. It was the beginner’s guide to poetry, and it works. Now, when I’m having a terrible lockdown day and I’m not sure how to cope, I go to my quiet place and write a paragraph about how I feel in the same way I would in a journal. Then I make it into poetry. I use the same paragraph to write different forms of poems. I’ve tried my hand at sonnets, haikus, limericks, and even narrative poems where I take the feelings I have written down and turn them into a story. They are all terrible, but that’s ok because by the time I have reorganised my thoughts multiple times I no longer feel overwhelmed by those feelings. The simple act of rewriting the same feelings in multiple different ways helps me deal with the negative emotions.
Using Writing as a Tool
There are times in our lives when we all lose focus and the world can be overwhelming. During this lockdown I have found myself floundering more than ever. When Covid-19 took over our lives over twelve months ago, we had no idea what was going to happen. The government gave us a stay at home order and most of us, although worried, just got on with it. I had a degree to finish in a landscape I could never have imagined only weeks earlier, so I was busy enough to be mostly unaffected. This time around it was different. We all know how lockdown really works and even with the light at the end of the tunnel we are all too aware that our landscape can change again in even more confusing ways.
Finding focus has become a daily struggle for me. It is all too easy to go day to day without accomplishing anything, so I decided to use writing as a way to focus my energy in a positive way. I get up, walk the dog and then sit with my cup of coffee and write something. It doesn’t matter what it is and it doesn’t need to be anything productive. Sometimes it’s a poem, sometimes I go old school and write a letter, or even just an email to a friend. It can take several hours or it can take only minutes but either way, when I get up out of the chair to get on with the day, I find myself feeling a sense of accomplishment I haven’t felt in months, and that is something we could all do with while we are stuck at home.
A Conversation With Yourself
Suppressing negative emotions can be a heavy burden. We carry it around like a physical weight and it can affect every aspect of our lives without us even being aware of it. Writing those feelings down, whether it is a poem, a journal or a story, lifts that weight and eases the pressure on us. Writing can be a way to release all of the emotions and negative experiences without fear of judgement or condemnation. It is, in a way, a conversation with yourself, which helps you withdrawn from the world inside your head where all your thoughts and feelings are overwhelming, and that can lead to a feeling of relaxation and promote an inner calm you didn’t know existed.