One of the ways many people choose to express themselves creatively is through writing. Whether it’s through storytelling, poetry or prose — writing down your thoughts can serve to alter the ambiguity of your emotions and experiences into something more.
And what better way to get it all off your chest than by putting pen to paper?
Writing for yourself not only allows you to navigate your thoughts, but it’s a wonderful way to explore personal creativity, and practising this on a regular basis allows you to free your mind by engaging in self-expression.
However you might choose to express yourself, writing creatively serves as a way for you to make your feelings tangible and honest.
Here’s a look at a few common benefits of expressing yourself through creative writing.
Creative writing is accessible
Creative writing is one of the easiest and most available methods for self-expression. We can put our emotions into abstract poetry or share our authentic experiences in personal accounts. We can use storytelling to understand ethical and sociological issues, or journals to purge our minds free from clutter.
- Self-development. Journal writing is a low-pressure way to ease into the habit of daily creative writing. This type of “freewriting” teaches you to embrace the innate chaos of the creative process, without suppressing your thoughts.
- Therapeutic. Writing is a means of making sense of experience, and discovering a deeper understanding of what it means. Creative writing can help those struggling with sad and difficult thoughts, form new positive perspectives.
- Liberating. When writing down ideas and thoughts, there are no limitations. For instance, when you write down your feelings — no one sees it, but your mind is freed from that thought and you feel liberated.
Creative writing is good for our mental health
One study, along with others, has revealed that expressive writing has provided better mental, emotional, and physical health benefits. Other research has shown creative writing alleviates stress levels, increases self-awareness and improves self-esteem.
- Catharsis. Creativity is cathartic- it’s freeing to create something. But there’s also catharsis in expressing pent-up feelings, and writing while overwhelmed or after a challenging experience can help release these feelings and thoughts.
- Validating. Putting your thoughts and feelings down in black and white can help you to identify them and feel validated. When you write, you don’t need external validation — it comes from within.
- Discovery. The act of writing powers you to express your thoughts- which often leads to new discoveries. You might find forgiveness through writing, or you could see a point of view that you didn’t know you held.
Creative writing encourages you to explore thoughts and feelings
Writing creatively offers an inspiring way to explore thoughts, feelings, ideas and beliefs. You could write a children’s story that symbolises your concerns about climate change or a poem that depicts how you feel after a breakup.
Writing creatively about challenging experiences, like grief, can also offer a way to communicate to others something which you feel is too uncomfortable or difficult to say directly.
- Relief. Suppressing difficult thoughts and emotions is not healthy. While we don’t want to obsess over them and write continuously about negativity — it’s healthy to explore these feelings and to be able to find a way to heal and move on.
- Relationship-building. All relationships we make have to engage in communication that includes self-expression. Each of us needs to feel understood and heard. So if we choose to share our self-expressive writing with others — we can build connections.
- Sharing. Our self-expressions can include insight or experiences that we share to help others. What we write could make someone else feel that they’re not on their own, or offer valuable knowledge or wisdom that supports and comforts others.
Ideas to help you express your creativity
Keep a notebook
Along with a daily journal, it’s helpful to have an allocated notebook close to you at all times, in which you can make a note of ideas such as words, phrases, sights, sounds, or places. Alternatively, if you’re out and about, and something comes to mind, you can use a note-taking app.
Write every day! If you are creating a book, just writing down a few hundred words will enable you to complete a first draft that you can later work on. Remember, you have to start somewhere otherwise you’ll have nothing to revise and work with. Even if you don’t use what you’ve written, the process is never wasted — it’s all part of the creative process.
William Wordsworth said, “Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” Use your own emotions as a guideline when you’re writing. Keep things real, don’t just feel inspired by your emotions — figure out where they come from.
Allow your feelings to be the inspiration for writing and craft this into some form of creative narrative that expresses and describes that feeling in a unique and engaging way — whether it’s a sonnet, short story, song, or memoir.
Write in longhand
When it comes to writing, if you want to try to be more creative, change the way you write. Rather than hammering frenziedly at a keyboard — or worse staring at a blank computer screen, find liberation and less distraction away from the keyboard and write using a pen and paper instead. Many writers do a first draft like this as they find their brain works in a different and potentially more interesting-way.
“To express yourself needs a reason, but expressing yourself is the reason” – Ai Weiwei
The expressions captured within creative writing are simply taking advantage of our freedom of expression. We can express what we want, when we want. And when we do this, we discover more about ourselves, our feelings and the experiences that life throws our way.