Creative Writing with Therapeutic Purpose
We live in a world alive with distraction and busyness – social media, television, parenting and everything involved with day to day survival.
Our world can be rich, dynamic, thick with experience and it can also feel like a fog of overwhelm in which we lose ourselves.
Jacqui Smith ran a fantastic session at our recent Complementary Therapists Group meeting (a group open to all therapists and professionals working in health & wellness for networking, connecting with other like-minded people and for developing ourselves both professionally and personally) called Creative Writing with Therapeutic Purpose to help us feel more rooted, to connect deeply with our inner selves and all whilst having fun and developing our creativity.
Writing for self-expression
Jaqui says “My passion for this particular genre of therapy is that it can be as public or as private as you desire. It is so versatile it can be used to support any process, at any depth. You can spend ten minutes with it, or hours. I combine writing with meditation, mindfulness and a creative approach.”
Jacqui started by leading us through a brief but powerful meditation/mindfulness exercise to help us shed our cares from the external world and focus in on the present moment.
We had a general discussion/introduction to each other about our thoughts on writing, blogging, journalling and other forms of self-expression.
I loved the quote that Lis Allen shared with us that Paulo Coelho had recently tweeted about:
I write to empty my mind and to fill my heart.
— Paulo Coelho (@paulocoelho) 21 August 2013
This was particularly relevant for Lis at the moment apparently as she is all set to start work on a book – exciting news!
Esther Limberg-Birks added that in her work with her clients as a Therapeutic Coach, she often recommends people write down their thoughts and feelings but that they tear it up or even burn it afterwards.
I really liked that idea as in the past I’ve been put off from journalling because of the permanence of the written word in the lovely books I was writing in. So going forwards I’ll write on paper and destroy it afterwards once the benefit of getting it all down on paper has been received.
Then we were introduced to the concept of acrostic writing (acrostic: əˈkrɒstɪk/
noun a poem, word puzzle, or other composition in which certain letters in each line form a word or words) and we each took turns to read a line from the poem she had created using this technique to share with us the aims of the session:
The Wellbeing Centre acrostic
Write without self criticism.
Excellence is not required – only you can write your words.
Let the words remain confidential to us within this group.
Listen with your ears and from your heart.
Be gentle with yourself.
Embrace the process, with no goal.
Ignore grammar, spelling, punctuation and ‘getting it right’.
No need to read or share if you do not wish to.
Give yourself permission to write whatever comes.
Celebrate your willingness to participate.
Engage the connection between your heart and hand.
Note that wise words are often simple and straightforward.
Trust that something will emerge.
Reflect, like a pool of still water.
Enjoy the process.
Each of us found certain aspects of this poem to be particularly relevant for where we were at the time with regards to writing and self-expression and it was interesting to discuss this as a group.
Writing inspired by a chosen object
The first writing technique we worked on involved us first selecting an object from a beautiful wicker basket Jacqui had brought in, reminiscent of the type you might expect a snake to rise up out of.
The objects were wrapped up so we couldn’t tell what they were until we had selected one and opened it.
There were all sorts of beautiful objects within – including (from memory) a felted ball, a crystal heart, stones and shells from a beach, and the object I choose which was an hourglass with pink sand.
I wrote about how often time feels like it’s running out for me and the anxiety this causes but as I looked deeper into the hourglass, I found myself feeling a sense of calm from the gentle movement and especially when I realised I could simply turn the hourglass upside down and create more time for myself whenever I wanted!
The effect of this was only slightly ruined for me by Jacqui sounding her singing bowl at this point to bring the time we had for this exercise to an end!
We shared our written creations with a partner and discussed what this meant for us which was lovely (thank you Helen Peedell for being a great confidante).
An acrostic composition of our own
There was just time after this for us to create our own acrostic composition based on our own name. So for each letter of our name (first only, first and middle, or all our names as we liked) we thought of a word or a sentence that came to mind and felt right to us.
I loved this exercise and was quite chuffed with my poetic creation. Learning from the last exercise, I was kind to myself and choose to write one just for my own first name. I’d share it here but I do love the one Jacqui shared with us that she’d composed for herself:
Joy for the love of growth
Anger for injustice
Calm in nature
Quietly contemplative of life
Unbridled passion for those I care about
It’s brilliant isn’t it?! Encapsulates all that I know and love about her.
Monthly groups for 2018 open to all
Given how much I and the others in the group loved the session, I was delighted to discuss with Jacqui a monthly group for Creative Writing starting in January 2018. These will be open to everyone, not just therapists.
I’ll post more information about this soon but in the meantime if you’d like more information on this then please let me know.
In the meantime, if you came along to this session then please share your thoughts (and possibly one of your prose creations?) in the comments below and if you didn’t then let us know what you think or why not have a go now and come up with your own acrostic composition based on your name.
Oh, and if you’d like me to share the one I created then let me know and I’ll post mine too in the comments below 😉