Creative writing can help preserve our mental health in the age of Coronavirus

Anne Taylor
30 March 2020
Article uploaded by
Mo Harber-Lamond

Putting pen to paper can provide relief from the emotional challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic brings in a range of ways. Introduction to Therapeutic and Reflective Writing tutor Anne Taylor explains, and announces her appearance at the free online Stay-at-Home! festival.

Introduction to Therapeutic and Reflective Writing

11 January 2021
  • Explore therapeutic and reflective writing for your own well-being and personal development
  • Learn how to use writing with therapeutic or counselling clients
  • Discover how fiction, life-writing and memoir can benefit well-being

Even before this Coronavirus pandemic, word about the therapeutic value of writing was spreading around the globe as a growing number of people became aware of its value as a transformative and life enhancing pursuit.  

Writing for wellbeing can also help us to cope with uncertainty – a state that, for a large proportion of the world’s population, will prevail for the foreseeable future.

The research of James Pennebaker and others has shown that expressive writing can have multiple benefits for mental and also physical health. Expressing our feelings on the page can help us manage them, crafting a poem can provide a container for our fears; writing can be a pleasure and a distraction, and in these days of isolation, a way of connecting.

The Professional Writing Academy’s online Introduction to Therapeutic and Reflective Writing course, which I co-direct with writer and poetry therapist Victoria Field, has seen over 200 participants from nearly 30 countries around the globe pass through its portal.

Students come together in small groups of no more than 12 in our forums to experience the power of reading and writing poems, of expressive writing and journal writing, of exploring memories through life-writing and of sharing and bearing witness in groups.

We have found that far from being a drawback, connecting in a virtual space has more often than not brought deeper personal connections between participants, affording more time for reflection than a face-to-face group. 

Many of our alumni go on to share their passion for words for wellbeing with others, and some have joined a growing global tribe of practitioners who are using writing for wellbeing with groups and individuals.

I will be running Introduction to Therapeutic Journal Writing workshops at the free online Stay-at-Home! Literary Festival, which was launched in response to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Anne Taylor

In the face of international lockdown over the past couple of weeks, a number of these have taken to running groups online and are sharing prompts and ideas for writing using social media and online conferencing platforms like Zoom.   

Amanda White, a writer and group facilitator in Cornwall, has set up a page on Facebook where people can share a daily Haiku. The response to this project has been overwhelming as people find distraction and a sense of play and satisfaction in crafting three simple lines of poetry to share with an online community. Seven days after its launch, the page already had 340 members.

Several group initiatives have been set up too. I will be running Introduction to Therapeutic Journal Writing workshops at the free online Stay-at-Home! Literary Festival, which was launched in response to the Coronavirus pandemic and has writing for mental health as one of its themes.  

In these turbulent times, I feel that our work in spreading the word about the therapeutic value of creative writing is more important than ever.

Anne Taylor

Lapidus International, the words for wellbeing organisation, which has a mission to grow writing communities who believe in the power of words to enhance and transform globally, will also be hosting a Creative Words for Wellbeing Mini-Festival on April 3rd and 4th.

The next iterations of Introduction to Therapeutic and Reflective Writing and its sister course Running Writing Workshops will start later this month. In these turbulent times, Victoria and I feel that our work in spreading the word about the therapeutic value of creative writing is more important than ever. Come and join us!

Anne Taylor

Anne Taylor is a professional writer, teacher, coach and writing group facilitator. She has many years experience of working as a journalist and copywriter, and as a lecturer in Higher Education. Since securing an MA in Creative Writing and Personal Development from the University of Sussex, she has been running writing groups in a range of health and community settings. She has a special interest in medical humanities and professional development and has published and presented her work on using creative writing with medical students. She is also chair of Lapidus Cornwall and is a trained NAWE/Arvon Foundation writing coach.

Introduction to Therapeutic and Reflective Writing

Begins: 11 January 2021