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Mental Health Awareness Week: Writing for wellbeing exercises

Each May, the Mental Health Foundation runs Mental Health Awareness Week, to help us recognise some of the issues that can have a negative impact on our wellbeing. In 2022, Mental Health Awareness Week runs from 9 to 15 May and the theme is loneliness.

As writers we spend a lot of time alone working on our craft and that can mean sacrificing time with friends and family. But there are ways to make writing more sociable. Building a writing group or community can be a brilliant way to find support; not only will it give you the opportunity to get feedback on your work, but you can share your worries and challenges with others and learn from their experiences.

Our Being a Writer membership community does just that and has inspired us to organise this year’s Being a Writer Festival, which is all about giving you the tools not only to improve your writing, but to thrive in your creative practice.

With wellbeing in mind, we’ve put together some writing exercises to help you explore some of the things that are good for mental health, whether that’s being together, being present, being in nature, being grateful or being hopeful for the future.

Being together

For this exercise, you’ll need a small group of people, although you can work together over email or even by text message if you can’t be together in person. Give each person a number, starting at 1.

Ask each person to write the opening paragraph of a story and pass it along (person 1 sends person 2 their paragraph and so on). They will write another paragraph and pass it along to the next person in the chain. Carry on until you have a story!

Get together and share what you’ve come up with.

Being present

Stop and close your eyes, focus on the space around you for a moment.

Now write down:

  • Three things you can hear
  • Two things you can touch
  • One thing you can smell

Set a timer for 10 minutes. Write a description of the space you’re in now, using the things you have sensed around you.

Being in nature

The next time you go out for a walk, take some photos of the landscape around you. What details do you notice? How does being in this place make you feel?

When you get home, write a short story set in this location from the perspective of someone who is a regular visitor, but today notices something for the first time.

Being grateful

Think of something in your life that you’re grateful for. Set a timer for 15 minutes and do some free writing. Begin by writing about why the thing you’ve chosen is important to you. Don’t think too deeply or worry about narrative. Keep writing, and see where the words take you.

Being hopeful

What do you dream of for the future? Imagine it’s five years from now and you’ve achieved your dream. Write a letter to yourself today that describes what you love about your life and how you made it happen.

We hope you enjoy these writing exercises! Please feel free to share them with a friend and start your own writing community.

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