Life @ U of T

Introduction

Healing Through Creative Writing

Healing Through Creative Writing

Writing has always grounded me, in many ways it has brought me back down to earth whenever my brain is muddled or I can’t think clearly. Especially in times as uncertain as these, it has become increasingly clear to me that it’s important to check in with yourself. Rushing through daily activities means that it can be easier than you would expect to repress feelings of anxiety, uncertainty, and sorrow. 

Personally, putting my thoughts on paper has been a wonderful outlet for acknowledging the subdued emotions that build within me. When I heard about the Mindful Moments writing activity, “What’s your Superpower?”, I was excited specifically because it described the exercise as an opportunity to creatively think about strengths, skills, and personal identity (all of which are desperately needed in a time of doubt). The participants were asked to pick from a list of characteristics and point out which ones we thought we possessed, such as creativity, honesty, self-regulation, etc. Following this, we were told to focus on one of these attributes and ask ourselves why they were meaningful, and how they could inform our writing. 

My messy notebook

One of my favourite things about the workshop was that meditation was incorporated in the activity. This gave participants the chance to be self-reflexive before or after periods of writing. It also just generally helped with feeling in tune with the body. One instructor asked that we place one hand on our stomachs and another on our chest so that we could physically feel how our body naturally knows how to breathe, and how our hands naturally rise and fall with every breath. 

As for the activities, the first prompt asked that we do a stream-of-consciousness type of narration. We were told to rid ourselves of self-criticism, that we should ignore proper grammar, and that we should simply write as naturally as possible. I found this incredibly difficult. I have a habit of writing slowly and carefully, where I naturally overthink word-choice and sentence structure. To try to let go of my inner critique was challenging, but also freeing. 

The second creative writing prompt concentrated on confidence-building. Event attendees were asked to think about a time when we were proud of ourselves and our skills. We were then told to write about this experience with as much detail as possible. I found this exercise more difficult than I initially thought, mainly because I had to force myself to focus on my accomplishments, which often get overshadowed in the face of hardships. 

A quote I love from Toni Morrison about the craft of writing

The third creative assignment suggested that we write about a dream that we wished would come true, regardless of whether the dream was grand or mundane. The group agreed that this prompt was specifically hard because of how vulnerable it was to open up about what you truly desire.  The final prompt requested that we write down a setback and how we overcame it. I enjoyed that I was forced to recognize past disappointments and then acknowledge that I had the strength to keep moving forward. This also created an interesting narrative, where I could see myself in the third-person, as a character who is continuously growing and learning.

Overall, I found the creative writing workshop to be challenging at times, especially when I had to dive into what my strengths are, expose myself and then rid myself of my insecurities. However, I stepped away feeling more confident in my abilities, and like I had acknowledged pitfalls rather than sweeping them under the rug. If there are more mindfulness writing workshops moving forward, I highly suggest checking them out!

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