Creative writing can be an amazing way of expressing the thoughts and feelings you’re experiencing. Some people find that it helps them realise how they’re feeling about a particular situation if they write it into a story, because they empathise more with the character in the story than with themselves. Or it might feel cathartic to write a poem about what you’re going through, rather than feeling the weight of carrying it around inside you.
While some people write whole novels, there are lots of different mediums you can try, for example, flash fiction can be really short, just one page or paragraph. In fact, one of the easiest little exercises to try is a haiku! A haiku is a short poem, the first line is 5 syllables, the second line is 7 syllables, and the last line is another 5 syllables. This haiku shows the format:
I am first with five
Then seven in the middle --
Five again to end.
There are often writing groups where people meet up to write, talk about or share their creative writing, or perform spoken word or slam poetry. You can also discover lots of advice and guidance the the Young Writers website. Your school teacher, local library or student union might also be a good place to start to see what there is to offer. Click on the following links to find your nearest library in England and Wales, Northern Ireland or Scotland.
In this video, Young Champion, Maddi, talks about how she uses creative writing and spoken-word poetry as a form of expression and self-care:
What young people have told us:
'A way to express your thoughts and feelings. I often go back to pieces of mine and reflect on it.'
'I love to write stories and poetry, writing about my own experiences and issues makes it easier to empathise with the character(s) and helps when I feel like I can't tell anyone my feelings with my speech, I can tell the paper. If I feel like people I know won't believe me, my characters always will.'
'Because I could finally express myself and put my emotions into my characters.'
'You should definitely try this. its a lovely activity and can even inspire some people to be authors or poets. but most importantly, it helps. it helps some people, if it doesn't help you that much, don't worry! just try something different and you'll soon find the rights things for you.'
'I love reading, which probably helps my love for writing. It just helps, and depending on what you're feeling, you can write something reflecting that. It's all up to you.'
''I think it helped because I love reading. It is easier to channel my emotions and thoughts into a story or a poem. I adore writing but i don't do it much because I haven't got very good handwriting. every time I want to show someone my work I often get asked 'What does that say?' Its been putting me down but now I'm doing it anyway and its really helping.'
There isn’t much academic research in the area of self-care for young people who are living with mental health issues. We are trying to find out more about what works for different people so we can better advise other young people what to try.
If you’ve tried this activity when you were struggling in relation to your mental health, please let us know if it helped you and how by clicking on the ‘Did this activity help you’ button.