During my second semester of my junior year at college, I had the opportunity to pursue a semester-long independent project. One of my courses allowed me to explore the world a bit further, specifically within the literary world and through a mental health lens.
The project I created was a perusal of other colleges and universities within the United States, analyzing how well or not-so-well these schools integrated mental illness into the classroom. I wanted to gain a global perspective of the ways a literary figure’s sufferings were discussed in relation to how that influenced their writing or if creative writing prompts were encouraged as a way to cope with a mental or emotional tragedy.
From all fifty states, I selected a school to participate and see if mental health integration occurred minimally or often within English majors and creative writing programs. As a mental health advocator, English major, and writer, this was both important and meaningful research for me.
As the results trickled in, however, I had come to find that like everything else in the world, there is room for improvement. It appears that literary figures are discussed only based on their contributions within the world of literature and what their writings mean. Writing prompts, too, are nothing more than assignments.
I do not believe that mental health should be the sole construct of an English class. I do suggest that including a few facts about a writer’s or poet’s struggles might encompass the unlimited power and creativity a person has. Many people become English majors to write, so allowing a few conversations to help drive the learning experience may be beneficial to a student’s connection with the written word.
While I will not publicly post all of the data I scraped from the surveys returned to me, I wanted a part of this project to have a positive impact and possibly make a difference in the world.
Writing is very important to me and has been there when I needed it most. Writing has welcomed me on days that were the hardest and darkest, as well as the easiest and brightest. Because of this, I compiled a list of creative writing prompts that have the power to help you cope and heal of whatever ails you. These prompts are a mixture of prompts I discovered online, as well as some of my favorite prompts which make me most happy.
Before we dive into the creative writing prompts, I have one final message to share:
If you struggle with a mental illness, I am seriously sorry, but hope that my composed list of writing prompts will be there for you and aid you to recovery with a happier, stabler mindset.
And if you are presently struggling with anything, remember that my messages are always open and so is the following phone number, the suicide prevention hotline: 1-800-273-8255. The number is available 24/7. It is confidential and no one ever has to know.
Let the prompt list begin!
By The Grace Of Google…
Stream Of Consciousness
Stream of consciousness allows you to align with present thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Stream of consciousness is a prompt full of freedom that allows your pen and pencil to flow just like whatever is on your mind. When you are finished writing, reread to see where the prompt took you. Stream of consciousness is perfect for a quick release of worries and the lashing emotions that are coursing through your body.
List writing can actually be rather fun. List writing gives you opportunity to create a list of anything. This can include a list of things that make you happy, a list of favorites, a list of things you are excited for, a list of topics for future writing prompts, and so on. List writing is beneficial because it allows you to focus on one thing. If you are composing a list of happy, exciting, positive things, your mind’s mood can feel the benefits.
It is always a good idea to check in with yourself and acknowledge the small things, showing appreciation toward them. Writing down the things you are most grateful for can be a powerful reminder. This is a prompt that can be practiced daily, weekly, or even monthly.
Affirmations & Redirections
When suffering from a mental illness, feelings and emotions can become very harsh. And sometimes they can feel so distant to the point where you feel absent of it all. Check in with yourself, affirming how you feel and then redirect. When you redirect, write about the ways you wish your feelings to shift. Then, monitor any patterns you sense and how your mood fluctuates before and after redirecting.
Meditation is an interesting exercise. I know of people who feel very relaxed and at peace with themselves when they meditate. I also know of people, like myself, who get a tad antsy when meditating. It is not always the best exercise to dispel anxiety and worrisome thoughts. Though, meditate writing may be the best avenue to take. Meditate writing is just you and your paper and pen. It is you inside a safe and secure headspace that nothing can penetrate. Create a headspace for yourself that is full of peace, warmth, love, and compassion. Write about that space, tapping into how it makes you feel. Write about this space with as much description as possible.
Also similar to meditating, listen to white noise or another soothing sound as you write. Or, if you’d just like to enjoy the scratching of pencil against paper, that is totally suitable.
There are several different forms poetry can take, which makes this prompt catered to your poetic tastes and desires. Explore a form you are comfortable with or one that is brand new to you. Once the form is chosen, write an original piece, making each line as meaningful as possible. Feel free to read a series of poems as inspiration. Writing poetry can help to express emotions in fun, unique, and creative ways. Poetry can be extremely abstract, which can help with the process of healing and coping.
This prompt is perfect to start your day with. Write about your goals and ambitions for the day. Write about your plans and what you want to accomplish. Write what you are committed to completing and achieving. This prompt can allow you to only focus on today, which in the long run, is the only day that matters. Toss your anxieties aside with this prompt and work to focus on one task at a time. This can help in developing a mindset to ignore the negative thoughts of tomorrow, next week, next month, and so on.
Write a letter to yourself, whether in the past or future. Write a letter to a trusted friend or family member. Write what you want to tell this person. Write about happy memories, why you are thankful for them, how they make you feel, and so on.
Just Some Of My Favorites…
One of my favorite prompts is writing about a season. Sometimes, I like to combine imagery of all the seasons into one poem. Nature is a very common and calming theme of poetry writing, which fits well with this prompt. There is a lot of opportunity to write about a season from varying perspectives. You may focus your poem around a favorite memory, imagery that captures your attention most, a certain scent, color, or food that is most ripe during that time of year. This prompt can allow you to travel to your favorite season while being in the midst of another climate.
I enjoy things with bright and flourishing color. Color can brighten up a room and make anything feel vibrant. Writing an abstract poem about a specific color or writing of colorful scenery can cause someone to focus on their surroundings, grounding you, making you feel just the present moment. The genre of fiction and/or fantasy can also come into play, causing you to escape the worries you are feeling. Color can also make you happier and escape the darkness and blues your mind may be feeling.
With this prompt, you may enter your creative side more by adding doodles, sketches, and other drawings around the words of your poem. Creating art, regardless of the form, is also known for improving mental illness.
One of my favorite ways to become inspired to write poetry, is by listening to music. As I listen, I pay attention to the sounds of the song, the lyrics, and the overall feelings and emotions that are being sparked from the tune. This prompt can give you more of an excuse to listen and relax to some of your favorite artists.
Everyone has that one place in the world that they absolutely love. For some, it might be snuggled up at home, while for others it might a tropical destination. For me, it is just that. I love the beach and enjoy writing about it too. Imagine yourself in your favorite place in the world and write about how it makes you feel.