World Mental Health Day fell on the 10th of October and this year it is more important than ever to look after your mental health. COVID-19 is creating some big changes and more and more people are feeling the effects on their mental state. Writing in itself can be a solitary endeavour but it seems to be worse this year. Weekly meetups at writing groups have been cancelled as have writing events. Everything seems to be taking place online on platforms like Zoom or Facebook live events. In this week’s column, I’ve pulled together some excellent tips and advice on looking after your mental health as a writer and I hope you’ll find them as useful as I have.
Mental health is something we all need to look at and talk about and the phrase ‘It’s ok to not be ok’ is one that everyone needs to be aware of. It’s good to talk and there is always someone to listen.
- https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/February-2018/Writing-Tips-that-Can-Reduce-Symptoms – Writing Tips that Can Reduce Symptoms: This article is from the National Alliance on Mental Illness and talks about confronting feelings through writing. It discusses focusing on a specific subject as well as giving yourself time to write about it. Don’t worry about grammar or spelling because it is all about getting it out of your head and onto the page. If your mental health is suffering this is a great article with some excellent tips to help you write about it.
- https://thenovelsmithy.com/mental-health-for-writers/ – Mental Health for Writers: 7 Ways to Nurture Your Writing Life: This article begins by mentioning that writing can be a form of therapy and it explores the myth that emotional suffering is the key to creativity. The author explains that a healthy mind can make a happy writer and explores 7 ways that you can take care of your mental health as a writer. This includes getting proper sleep, getting outside in the fresh air, spending time with others, coming up with an easy to follow plan with realistic goals, and my favourite, don’t edit as you write. Get the first draft down and then switch to editing mode. Routine and reaching out to others are also explored.
- http://hannahheath-writer.blogspot.com/2018/11/tips-for-maintaining-mental-health-as-a-writer.html – 9 Tips for Maintaining Mental Health as a Writer: These tips look at a number of different areas that weren’t included in the link above. Exercise, hobbies outside of writing, and healthy eating. It also looks at learning to value your own writing and how to get outside perspectives from trusted writers and friends. There’s a tip on how to avoid burnout as well as some great information on comparison. Tips 8 talks about letting yourself write garbage which is excellent and of course there is a section on getting help.
- https://pen.org/community-amid-coronavirus-mental-health-tips-for-writers/ – Community Amid Coronavirus: Mental Health Tips For Writers: This article is from Pen America and is an interview with Lyn Morris, MLFT, senior vice president of clinical operations at Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services. It looks at the unique concerns writers face with coronavirus along with tips for writers working from home who may struggle with mental health. There are some self-care tips as well as some things writers that need to destress can do.
- https://writershq.co.uk/seven-tips-writing-fiction-mental-health/ – 7 Tips for Writing Fiction About Mental Health: This article is for those of you who may be adding mental health issues into your novel. It discusses representation of mental health and how important it is to be responsible when creating your characters. There are different ideas explored such as bad guy = crazy, love not being a magical cure, the importance of researching different symptoms and how they represent themselves. There is a list of novel recommendations at the end of the article that are great examples of writing about mental health.
- https://www.inspired-quill.com/blog/author-mental-health-tips/ – Tips for Staying Mentally Healthy as an Author: This article looks at how authors can maintain their mental health and includes some information on how you should manage your expectations. There’s a section on why authors can struggle with mental health and what they can do about it. It’s a short read but worth taking the time to read and digest.
- https://www.grammarly.com/blog/writing-mental-health/ – How Writing Can Help Support Your Mental Health: This article is all about why writing can be great for mental health. It can be used as a mindfulness tool and a way to clear your mind. Scientific studies have proven the effectiveness of journaling. Writing can help you to become more self-aware too. This article has some great tips on how you can get started if you want to write as a means of looking after your mental health.
- https://paperfury.com/how-write-with-mental-illness/ – How to Keep Writing When You Have Mental Illness: This article offers tips to help you keep writing when you are struggling with your mental health. These tips include using visual reminders of the good things about writing. When it comes to critique take your time. Every writer needs critique but sometimes they can tear you down. There are some excellent tips on surviving critiques in this post. My favorite tip in this article is tip number 6, don’t quit – take a break.
- https://www.well-storied.com/blog/writing-when-depressed – Four Tips for Writing When You’re Depressed: If you don’t feel like reading this article you can actually just press play as it is Episode #70 of the Well-Storied Podcast. There are four lessons which include keeping a writing ritual, honouring your creative highs, using your writing as an outlet, and giving yourself grace. This is well worth the read or listen and has some great information that can help all writers and not just those struggling with depression.
I hope you’ve enjoyed all these links on how to write when your mental health is suffering and how to look after your mental health as a writer. I did a mental health column last year as well so if you’d like some more links be sure to check it out here https://www.writing.ie/resources/mental-health-tips-for-writers-really-useful-links-by-amanda-j-evans/ Remember, if there is a topic you’d like to see me cover, all you need to do is get in touch with me via any of my social media links.
(c) Amanda J Evans