Writing as a form of therapy isn’t new. I started journaling years ago when I felt low and didn’t know what to do. Writing down my thoughts and feelings has helped me organise them and helped me realise important things. Even when things got better, I didn’t stop, and now I’m grateful to have the habit of writing to get me through more rough spots. Especially since these last couple of weeks have brought us more insecurity and anxiety because of a pandemic.
If you have some time these coming weeks or months, maybe consider keeping a journal. Take a pen and a notebook, and start writing. And because of my love for fountain pens, I dare you write with a pen again instead of typing. Disconnect for a while, go analogue, so you don’t have to feel the constant pressure of the news and social media.
My journal is personal and I write in it every day with the intention that no one is ever going to read it. Getting those thoughts out is just for me, to clear my head. What I write in there doesn’t have to make sense to anyone but me. My goal is to write one page per day. Sometimes that’s easy and I want to write more. Other times I’m having trouble filling that page. That’s okay. Even writing one line each day can help you to develop a habit. Not just of writing, but also checking in with yourself and how you’re feeling.
There is no right or wrong with journaling. Date your entry, or don’t. Start with ‘Dear Diary’ or address it to someone else. I don’t. Create a bullet journal to keep track of everything, not just your thoughts. Write one page at night before you go to sleep, or write three every morning. Include your goals, or just keep it about what’s going on inside of you.
Don’t be afraid to read back and reflect on who you were before. Keeping a record of how you felt under which circumstances and maybe the solutions you used can help you again in the future. And even if it’s just to clear your mind of negative or intrusive thoughts, writing it down helps.
I have noticed that some people started going back to letter writing now that things have changed. The elderly aren’t allowed visitors anymore and feel lonely. Some of them are capable of using modern technology, but not all. My mother has actually started writing them letters to help them get through that loneliness.
Use this time reconnect with people again. Send them a text, an email, or a letter. You don’t have to talk about what’s going on now, Just trying to reforge that connection by talking about what connects you is a good first step.
Escapism is a widely known phenomenon to help someone cope with the troubles of real life. And sometimes you have to create that world yourself. I use my fiction writing to create new worlds that I’d want to be in. Even if they’re not good. Wouldn’t you like to go to Hogwarts even if it meant possibly battling Voldemort? I would.
My first published fiction was my Guild Wars 2 fan fiction. Tyria, the world of Guild Wars 2, was a world I’d fallen in love with, and my characters had to survive in that dangerous world filled with conflict. Going on adventures with them, exploring the world in a different way than playing the game, and creating my own stories gave me hope when work stressed me out.
I’m not saying you have to get creative or this is the perfect time to write your novel. Many creatives have so much anxiety right now that they can’t create, which is okay. You’re not less of an artist or writing because you have put a pen on paper for weeks. Having a creative outlet might help.
It’s April now and there are two writing events I’m part of: Blapril, which I do mostly onc Princess in a Castle, and Camp NaNoWriMo. I don’t know how far I’ll get with either of them because there are other things I have to focus on. Like my health and editing my book. But being part of these communities will motivate me to make an effort. Supporting each other and having something to look forward to is important. Now that physical events and meetings are off, having digital ones is amazing and makes us feel more connected.