Writing for Wellbeing
Our year-round creative writing project Beyond Words has shown the benefits writing can have on wellbeing and good mental health. This series of videos offer a range of Writing for Wellbeing activities for everyone, led by Beyond Words writer-in-residence, Caleb Parkin. They are suitable for all ages, with lots of enjoyable prompts to get everyone inspired, creative and feeling happier. And all you need to take part is paper and a pencil!
Week 1: All About Me – NameJam
In this video, Caleb Parkin asks you to play around with your name. Ask it questions, find words that rhyme with it and explore its meaning. Write a poem inspired by your name. Then do the same for someone important to you – human or animal!
[Wellbeing notes: Affirm a sense of self, explore aspects of your identity and appreciate your relationships.]
Week 2: Me and My Stuff
We all have taste – things we like, or prefer, and things we don’t. This week, explore the stuff that’s important to you, and give it a voice of its own.
[Wellbeing notes: It’s fun to appreciate our own – and celebrate the difference with other people’s taste too. These objects are around us every day and they’re the stuff of life – so why not appreciate them in a poem?]
Week 3: What the Heck is Ekphrasis?
Session 3 asks us to write using art (in online art galleries) and explore tricky ideas through metaphor.
[Wellbeing notes: Ekphrasis is a great way to write about visual art and find aspects of ourselves in artworks – even online ones. This is also a good chance to go exploring the rich range of online museum and gallery resources out there.]
Week 4: Recycled Poetry
In this video, we’ll be doing cut-ups and blackout poems using material from around your home. Find your scissors and marker pens and get ready to be creative!
[Wellbeing notes: Cut-ups and blackout poems are great ways of getting over the ‘fear of the blank page’ – they’re liberating and playful. They’re also, however, excellent (in the case of both forms) for answering back – to official documents, corporate language, anything we want to challenge, making us feel empowered and able to take action.]
Week 5: Haiku
Both simple and fiendishly intricate, the haiku is a great way to explore close detail through our senses.
[Wellbeing notes: Haiku is a great way to stop and notice, slow down and use our senses – some studies around its connections to mindfulness have shown how complementary haiku is in this regard.]
Week 6: Praise Poems
Gratitudes and appreciations: which little things really bring you joy? In this final writing for wellbeing session, Caleb Parkin focuses on the good things to inspire a poem.
[Wellbeing notes: Just as a piano player has a more developed part of their brain devoted to the way their hands work, we can cultivate an appreciation for the everyday – and our brain will literally change as a result. (And the same is true of the opposite if we get stuck in complaining too much – although it’s also good to get things off our chest when we need to!) So stopping to notice and appreciate the small gifts each day presents – and shape them into a poem – has huge benefits for our wellbeing.]
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