Self-Expression = Mood Boost

I had a strange dream last night and it had nothing to do with me. Sometimes I think I have strange dreams because of a late night chocolate fix, but I didn’t have chocolate last night. It was a series of dreams, but what stood out the most was a tyrannosaurus rex bursting through an arcade game. Yeah tell me about it, I didn’t know how to spell that dinosaur’s name properly until today.

Well, the fun didn’t stop there. Next thing I know I’m following a fashion design team with one of the guys from Queer Eye. He’s wearing the furry coat number that Selena Gomez was sporting in the first episode of Only Murders in the Building. This fashion design team walk into a posh hair salon to get a blow out, but it’s not really a blow out because they were all at a wash station immersing their head and half their body into these strange sinks operated by machines. Their designer clothes were getting a good shampoo rinse as well. You would think their clothes were permanently damaged, but those that walked out afterwards looking just as fabulous as before.

Then I woke up.


I came to with my heart pounding out of my chest and thought I should write a post about self-expression. I’ve been on this self trip lately. It’s been refreshing, empowering and inspirational. When I hear self-expression, images of people wearing clothes that are far from the norm pop into my head. How many people do you know walk around in furry coats like Selena Gomez?

Self-Expression by fictional character Mabel played by Selena Gomez wearing a furry orange coat

Maybe it’s a New York City thing, I don’t know. During Only Murders in the Building, the subtitles said the coat was yellow, but it’s clearly a shag carpet orange,right? But maybe I don’t know my colors as well as the people who provided the captioning. After all, I live in rural Florida, where wearing something other than a t-shirt is called dressing up. It’s a quirky place to live, but I’m not a huge fan of crowds, so it works for me. Mabel wears funky coats and my self-expression comes through my words. Now it’s your turn.

How Do You Express Yourself?

Is it through the way you dress, your hairstyle, what you drive or the way you promote yourself on social media? Self-expression displays who we are to the world. It is commonly expressed through writing, dance, music, or visual arts.

This is not meant to make you more likeable by others. Think of it as helping you reach your more authentic self. When you become your unique self, guess what? It boosts your mood and can help reduce anxiety. So how do we get back to our authentic self?

How to Promote Self-Expression

First, find an inspiring quote and imagine yourself as a child.

What’s the first thing that pops up in your head about the things that made you happy?

What do you enjoy doing now?

What are you awesome at?

What are your favorite colors?

What’s your favorite song?

What are your current interests?

Take a moment to answer these questions in your journal. Now create a vision board with these thoughts in mind. Keep it in a spot where you will see it often. The bathroom mirror is a good place to start or maybe on your desktop. It might even be a good idea to put it in a place where visitors sit. Wouldn’t that make for a great conversation piece?

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Make time to do the things that bring you joy.

Becoming Our Better Self

Our self-esteem and self-confidence get thrown into our mental backpack.  Sometimes it feels lighter. We are happier and more agreeable, turning into a positive energy to others. We allow the good vibes to flow. But on the not-so-good-days, we lug it around like a bag of rocks. Let’s keep it light. Who’s with me?


Self-esteem ties into how we see ourselves, be it negative or positive. This part of ourselves is about having and understanding our self-worth.

Have you noticed that how we view ourselves shapes our day-to-day existence? When you are feeling negative about yourself, your day turns into a big cloud of yuk. The hailstorm rages and we can’t find our way out of it.

But if we change our thinking, which can occur at any moment when we choose, the storm dissipates and we’ll see a rainbow. The blue skies return and we are kind to ourselves and those around us. When met with rudeness we believe that person is going through something bad. We give them the benefit of the doubt. 

What’s the lesson here? Treat yourself with kindness and love. Yes, you have worth and a lot of it. What you have to offer the world is bigger than yourself. Because when you see the goodness in you, you’ll begin to see the goodness in others. I believe that’s where the ripple effect comes in.


Oxford Languages defines self-confidence as  how confident we feel in our “abilities, qualities, and judgements.” We all have something we’re good at. Can’t think of anything? Make a list or have someone else make one for you. If your friends can’t see anything, now is the time to get different friends.

On a humorous note, one of my friend’s over a church pulpit said in her testimony (during the time I was a young Mormon mom) that I made really good brownies. What did I do with that information? I made a mental note by placing “Desiree is a good baker” in my abilities folder and “Desiree is consistent” into the folder for my qualities.

Just as much as negative words can strike us down, the positive ones can lift us up. Surround yourself with the kind of people who bring you on a higher plane of being, not drag you down.


This is about learning and growing to become our better selves. Try turning this into a journal entry.

What do you like about yourself?

Think of abilities or qualities you possess? If you’re not seeing it right now, have a friend make that list for you.

You’re probably asking, “How can I build self-confidence?”

The key to self-confidence increases by doing the things you enjoy. This key unlocks your purpose and when you find your purpose you’ll see those abilities and qualities within yourself flourish.

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Sooner or later like Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, we realize everything we need is in us. We choose every God given day how we want to see ourselves. By increasing the love and kindness you show yourself, you open the floodgates to becoming your better self. 

Reasons to Canon Ball Your Way Into Creative Writing

Hello and welcome to my blog! Thank you for joining me. I’m Desiree and I’ll be your host. Today’s post is about reasons to canon ball your way into creative writing.

To all of my new and regular viewers/readers, this is me creatively imagining what it would be like to have my own talk show. Then again, maybe I should start a podcast… scratch that, I just remembered that I’m in the middle of converting all my posts through Anchor into podcasts, available through Spotify, so if it’s not too much trouble, give it a listen and follow.

Did you notice how I didn’t say jump or dive? There’s no way for a person to gradually get into creative writing. Just as Van Gogh said about painting, I say,

“If you hear a voice within you say, ‘don’t write,’ then by all means write and that voice will be silenced.”

-Desiree Haros

Creative writing isn’t limited to just storytelling, you can apply these skills to poetry and journaling.

In my post about writing therapy, I mentioned that writing has the ability to strengthen your immune system. Well, there’s more where that came from. I’m going to hit you with some other did-you-knows. If you haven’t given creative writing a shot, here you go. If you are a creative writer, then here are the reasons you should stick with it.

Promotes Creativity

I notice when I sit down and begin to write in my notebook about ideas I need to brainstorm, more ideas seem to come up. Writing gets those thinking cogs turning and just like yoga with regular practice I begin to enter a flow state. And when I take a step back from my writing, those cogs don’t stop at the keyboard or when I put down the pen.

You don’t have to be a writer to reap the benefits. Writing helps you find solutions to problems. Those cogs will continue to turn and creative juices will emerge like a well-spring when you allow your brain to think and write with intent.

Creative Writing Improves Your Mental State

It brings us to another level of self-awareness. We are able to write out our worries, fears, and anxieties. Add those emotions into your creative writing journey. Sharing your struggles through poetry, essays, or memoir can have a lasting effect for good on your future audience.

People relating to our vulnerabilities shows them they are not alone in the struggle. Yes, there are other people like you. You struggle with depression? Me too! Writing about it has helped my mental state immensely.

Creative Writing Increases Your Vocabulary

If you didn’t know, now you know. Let me refer you back to my last post on wordsmithing. Increasing our knowledge of the English language can improve our prose. I want to know what other words I can use to describe someone sitting on the couch or looking up into the sky.

Writing helps me to remain in a state of wonder. It has me asking questions about things like, “Where did the word OK come from?” Answer: It was a joke between a couple of editors who used to write oll right, but misspelled on purpose as oll wright O.W., which eventually turned to oll korrect and became our present day OK. Thank you Merriam-Webster!

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Stay in the state of wonder my friends. Write on!

Wordsmith, Wordsmithing, Wordsmithery

noun: wordsmith; plural noun: wordsmiths

1. a skilled user of words.

Definition from Oxford Languages

The term wordsmith didn’t enter my vocabulary until my mid-30s, but let’s rewind. I didn’t know about a lot of things until that time in my life, but I’ll save that story for another day. But first, here’s some back story to my circuitous route of what it means to me to be wordsmith.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” It’s a popular question adults ask us from the time we can talk. The older we get we begin to discover what we want to become and it usually has nothing to do with what our parents want for us, even though they tell us to do what makes us happy. Come to think of it, I don’t recall my parents saying those words. EVER.

From first grade until the beginning of my junior year in high school, I had big plans. I wanted to make my parents proud, so they could brag to their friends and extended family about the career path I chose. Because one day, in my not so distant future, I was going to be a medical doctor…and jazz hands.

I sat with my parents watching every episode with Neil Patrick Harris as Doogie Howser, MD. And before Patrick Dempsey’s role as Dr. Shepherd in Grey’s Anatomy, there was George Clooney as Dr. Ross in ER. Who didn’t want to work in the ER, fall in love with another doctor, and live happily after?

But at the beginning of my junior year in high school, I saw a PBS documentary on the making of a doctor and it shook me to my core. This film crew followed a small group of students through medical school, residency, and practice. I watched them juggle family and work. There were successes and failures at home and on the job. My preconceived notions were created through TV shows, I didn’t imagine it to be any different until that point.

You could say I romanticized the idea of being a doctor until that moment. I didn’t know what becoming an MD entailed. You know, the years of sacrifice, the schooling in the things I had no interest for and of course there was the blood. I was 16 and it was the first time since the first grade that I didn’t want to be a doctor. Cue the Price is Right sound of disappointment.

That same year, I discovered my interest in the arts. Who knew there was a world outside of becoming a medical doctor? It would take me a couple more decades to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. I didn’t know it at the time, but what I wanted to become was a wordsmith.

Wordsmith Origin

The term wordsmith is believed to have been first used sometime in the 1800’s. Online Etymology Dictionary states that it comes from an 1855-56 Detroit directory 1855-56 with a listing for a “Mrs. F. Wordsmith.” Though it could be a typographical error. Other dictionaries trace it back by separating them into two words. I’ll only expound on the latter. Smith is generally associated with a person that works with metal, but a second definition says it is a person who has a specified skill.

I thought it would have a deeper meaning, but it is just as the name implies. In the same way a blacksmith forms metal, a wordsmith does the same when in the act of creative writing. We shape sentences in such a way to convey an image, a thought or an idea. If you’re a writer of words, add this to your list of I ams. Go ahead and say this out loud, “I am a wordsmith.”

The Sound-Better-Words

Now that you’ve said it, it’s time to be one. How many times have you looked for a better word .for something you wanted to say. I’ve only included two words in this post, but for good reason. Let’s take a look at the words very bad. In elementary we used the word very often, but somewhere along the line we were told to use other words to describe something that was very bad. So, we thumb through the dictionary and create lists of synonyms. Off the top of your head, what words come to mind when you’re thinking of a better word for bad? Create your own word list. This is a great exercise to see what you’ve got in your mental word bank.

Proofreading Services has a list of 128 words to use instead of “very” for your perusing pleasure.

Another common word used in our creative writings come when our characters are conversing. How did your character say it? Did he gasp, taunt, or whisper? I’ve included an infographic below compiled by The Puppet Show, so when you hit a said wall in your dialoging look to this.

280 Ways to say “said”

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Life took me on a detour, but I’m glad I found the thing that makes me get out of bed in the morning. I hope this post gets your mind thinking about other sound-better-words. There’s a big world out there with thousands of words to use within the English language.

Look up a word and find the synonym. I dare you to go down that rabbit hole. Sign up with an on-line dictionary for your word of the day. Use it in a sentence or let it catapult you in the form of a writing prompt. You’ll emerge with words that you never knew existed and dominate your friends and family in Scrabble or whatever word game tickles your fancy. Now doesn’t that sound like a dollop of whip cream on top?

Happy wordsmithing my friends! Write on.

Narrative: The 4 POVs

Narrative is the way you tell your story. What point of view do you offer your reading audience? How much are you willing to reveal and how much of their understanding do want to remain a mystery? Whichever one you choose, writing narratives from a different point of view enhances your creative writing skills.

First person narrative gives me a chance to imagine how and what the character is feeling. I see life through their eyes like I’m walking around in someone else’s shoes. One writer I met said she took up smoking because her character was a smoker. I found the behavior to be a little extreme. Keep in mind you don’t have to pick up a vice because your character has one.

In my own writing journey, I’m taking my own advice and trying different POVs by paragraph within my projects. I’ll take one paragraph and rewrite it using a different POV each time. It mixes things up and gives me the opportunity to see my character or characters in a different light.

Are you not sure how you should narrate your next story? Here’s a brief overview concerning point of view.

First Person

Use the pronouns I, me, or we, us our, ours, mine. Example, “I enjoy curling up on the couch to watch a mystery.” The narrator lets you know what I’m doing.

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” – Harper Lee To Kill a Mockingbird

Second Person

Use the pronouns you, your, yours, yourself. Example, “You stand there for a moment, not sure whether or not you should turn away.” The narrator lets you know what you are doing. The narrator turns the reader into the protagonist.

The overall consensus among the writing community is not favorable when it comes to using second person POV. There aren’t as many examples using this POV in literature, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t do it. I experimented with second person in a personal essay called The Photograph, when I found out my biological dad wasn’t my step dad. I ended up changing it to first person.

“You have friends who actually care about you and speak the language of the inner self. You have avoided them of late. Your soul is as disheveled as your apartment, and until you can clean it up a little you don’t want to invite anyone inside.” – Jay McInerney, Bright Lights, Big City

Third Person Limited

use the pronouns he, him, his, himself, she, her, hers, herself, it, its, itself, they, them, their, theirs, and themselves. Example, “She stares at the dog growling at her from the corner of her eye and decides to bolt.” The narrator lets you know what she is doing. Third person limited narrative knows the thoughts and actions of one character throughout the story. Most stories are told through this perspective.

“He will never be able to explain how he dares to do this, but perhaps you get tired of being frightened if you’ve been frightened long enough.” ― Fredrik Backman, Beartown

Third Person Omniscient

Use the pronouns he, him, his, himself, she, her, hers, herself, it, its, itself, they, them, their, theirs, and themselves. Third person omniscient knows and sees the inner workings of all characters.

“Vanity was stronger than love at sixteen and there was no room in her hot heart now for anything but hate.” -Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind


Write a paragraph with your character having dinner with their family. Try writing the same paragraph through the lens of the different POVs mentioned in this post. Which narrative worked best for you and why?

Establishing a Writing Habit

How can you successfully establish a writing habit? You want to have one, but you don’t know where to start. If a journey of a thousand miles begins with a step, then every story told begins with a single word. We all have to start somewhere.

When I think about a writing habit, I think of Ernest Hemingway and his daily goal of 500 words per day. Okay, that’s not a bad word count, but then there’s Anne Rice coming in at 3000. Yikes! That’s a lot of words, but don’t let these numbers discourage you.

What I’m telling you is that you shouldn’t concern yourself with how many words famous people wrote per day. You are not them and they are not you. If your current habit is looking less than subpar, it’s okay. I’m here to help. If you allow these simple changes in your life, your writing habit could be as consistent as making that first cup of coffee in the morning.

Steps to Creating a Writing Habit

1. Set Your Intention

What is it that you want to achieve with a good writing habit? What is your primary objective? Do you have a specific project you’re working on? Is it an essay, short story, or novel?

Like any objective, specificity matters. I find it best to work on more than one project. If you get stuck in one, you can always work on a different one. Burn out on projects are real. I will not pretend otherwise.

If there’s no deadline, create one for yourself. If you have a short story or essay you’re working on, sign yourself up on Submittable and submit it to a literary journal. It’ll keep the fire under you.

2. Cut out Your Distractions

Understand your needs from your wants. Are you an avid checker of social platforms? Put the phone away or disable the apps. If you need to post a Happy Birthday to someone on their timeline, set a reminder on your phone to do it after you’re through with your writing session. Your socials can wait, but your writing can’t.

Scrivener is my writing platform and thankfully it can be used off-line. I disconnect from the internet and when temptation strikes, I make a note on the sidebar. Nine times out of ten, it wasn’t that important. I get antsy at the keyboard. Kind of like making an emotional purchase when you’re at the store. Give it some time and the feeling will pass. I didn’t need to check something out, I wanted to.

3. Writing Space

Where do you write? Put up some motivational quotes or scented candles to energize your space. If your current space is cluttered, sort through it. Having a mountain of paperwork in front of you will deprive you from your creative energies. Make your space a place where you are excited to spend your time.

I’ve tried various places in my house, but the best space for me is sitting at my desk. Anywhere else I go, I feel like I’ve been shot with a sleeping tranquilizer.

4. Schedule it

If writing is important to you, you will make time for it, right? Are you a morning bird or a night owl? We make time for what matters to us. If there is a time of day that works better for you make sure you create a schedule around it. A morning person wouldn’t schedule their prime writing time at 11pm. Whenever you feel the most productive, be sure to schedule accordingly.

5. Consistency

Once you’ve scheduled it in, consistency will follow. Did you know It takes 30 days to form a habit? I learned about how to form good habits when I was a Mormon girl. Yes, being Mormon had its benefits. One of the many tasks to earn the Young Women’s included forming a good habit.

Writing in my journal for 30 days was one of them. I made it a point to write in my journal every night for 30 days, right before I went to bed. Long after the 30 days were over, it turned into one of my nightly routines.

6. Reward Yourself

When you are consistently working towards a habit that will satisfy your soul, you don’t want to dim the light on it. Celebrate it! We need to do these sorts of things to stay motivated. And if you’re wondering if you deserve it, of course you do!

You don’t have to go on an extravagant spa retreat, but it’s important to reward yourself. Give yourself a manicure or pedicure, visit the beach, visit with a friend or check out that new art gallery. The added bonus, you’ll probably bring home some good content for your writing.

My reward for writing consistently is as simple as completing a French lesson on Duolingo, reading a chapter of fiction, or browsing the latest issue of Poets & Writers. Maybe for you it’s watching an episode of Stranger Things. Whatever your cup of tea, give yourself permission to reward yourself.

Musings From a Creative Writer

Creative writing is the imaginative musings of a writer. The writer incorporates the senses to show the reader a story. It’s a flowery embellishment of sorts, describing a park you’ve created from your imagination. It’s the sensation a character feels from the sun on their skin in the middle of the day.

In school, your professors teach you to show and not tell. It’s the showing of the beach at sunset rather than telling the audience that the sun set. Now all your sentences become too long because all you do is show. Then you read an article that says it’s better to tell. If they ran, say they ran. Keep the story progressing. Progressing to what? You don’t know, but you keep writing.

The words you wrote and rewrote begin to sound like crap. You’re ready to burn your manuscript, except for that one sentence or that paragraph. There’s still hope. You put the lighter away and retrieve your work from the garbage. It’s a cycle of building yourself up and tearing yourself down.

As the writer, creative writing can leave you staring at a blinking parallel line. Your cursor sits waiting like your beating heart for the next word. How’s the writing coming people ask. “It’s coming,” you tell them. Every line you write you obsess over. You weren’t a perfectionist until now.

Who are you writing for? You realize more often than not that you do it for yourself. Words made their way into your heart and now those must find a place in the world.

Creative writing can take you on an adventure all while sitting in the comfort of your bed. You feel emotions about a topic you never had an opinion on until you read about it from a book you stumble across at the bookstore.

You want to hit a nerve in your reader that makes them stay up all night reading your book. When they are through you want them to mourn the character they can no longer read about.

This is what you want for your reading audience, so you keep writing.

Character Development

Emotionally attached to fictional characters

Character development can be challenging. You have a character. You’ve given them a name and some physical details, but you want your audience to connect with them on a deeper level. When I’m reading a story, my connection with them grows when I get a glimpse inside their head.

Make a list of characters you like from different books you enjoyed. What was it about them that made you grow an attachment? Are they forgetful and worry all day at work whether or not they switched off their straightening iron? Did they worry about the impression they made at an interview? Do they bite their nails when they’re anxious?

Define the character are you working on? Is it your protagonist or antagonist. Think about what makes your character interesting for better or worse? To start out on an easier note, let’s pretend you’re making a new friend. I’ve included the questions below to help you dig a little deeper. Keep in mind you want your audience to become emotionally invested in your character.

It’s Coffee Talk Time

A couple of people sitting directly across from each other with a cup of coffee.

Observational Questions

  • How do they act when they are happy, excited, in love, sad, or angry?
  • What kind of gestures do they make in conjunction with these emotions?
  • Do they have any tattoos or noticeable scars?
  • How do they typically dress?

Interpersonal Questions

  • What is one of your biggest pet peeves?
  • The song you blast when you’re happy?
  • Favorite bar/restaurant you enjoy?
  • Beverage of choice?
  • Do you like to travel? Where have you been?
  • Do you have pets? What kind? How many?
  • Do you have children? What are their names and how old are they?
  • Are you close to you family? Any specific member you call when times get tough or unbearable? Why?
  • Who do you spend your holidays with?
  • Are you religious or spiritual?
  • Do you play or watch sports?
  • What do you do when you’re stressed out?
  • What languages do you speak?
  • What are your hobbies?
  • Do you have a nickname? How did you get it?
  • What is your favorite appetizer?
  • As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
  • What is your favorite vacation spot?
  • Happiest moment of your life? Worst?
  • How do you see the world? Is the glass half empty or half full?
  • What’s your greatest fear?
  • What is one of your biggest regrets?

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These questions may only scratch the surface of getting to know your character. Let me turn this over to you now. What else do you want to know about them? Think back on how you got to know your own friends. How can you integrate them into your character? Maybe put some of yourself in them. Try putting them in a scene.

Here’s an example. Allow them to sit alone in a restaurant. What do they notice about other people around them. Is your character comfortable or embarrassed sitting in a booth by themselves. Why do they feel that way?

Inner dialogue can help move your story along and throwing your character into action will help you determine what they’re missing.

Writing Prompts

Every creative writer benefits from writing prompts. My initial thought meant writing prompts have to be fresh and original. Nice thought but not a requirement.

Retell a Story

There are plenty of stories that could use a revamp. How many times has Pride and Prejudice been retold through film adaptations. I read a science fiction take on Cinderella, by Marissa Meyer called Cinder. Have you read the classic tale of The Three Ninja Pigs? Yes, it’s a real book. You can try your hand at creating a story from a nursery rhyme. I would love a retelling of the old woman who lived in a shoe. Seriously, how in the world did she get there?

Writing Prompt Sites

When I’m in need of a writing prompt, I find it far more interesting when someone else comes up with one. It’s the kind of feeling I get when I make something at home, but prefer the taste of the same food at a restaurant.

  1. Reedsy lured me in with their 1100+ writing prompts. They currently show 1324 prompts on their site. With many of their prompts beginning with “Write about…”
  2. Written Word Media shares 500 prompts. What I like about Reedsy and Written Word Media is that they break them down into genres. You’ll notice that some of the prompts from WWM come from Reedsy. They offer some pretty good starters.
  3. ThinkWritten gives you 365 writing prompts. They provide you with plenty of prompts. Here’s one of them “Eye contact: write about two people seeing each other for the first time.” I like that they give you the option to download the PDF version for $5. Not a bad idea.

Writing Prompt Generator

If you don’t like scanning through lists, these websites offer you a prompt with just one-click. I have included screenshots of what you can expect.


Steampunk Science Fiction Writing Prompt


Squibler writing prompt

The Story Shack

Writing prompt for a fantasy.

One Sentence Starters

I went about my prompts in a different manner. Call them what you want, but I’ve decided to call mine, “the one sentence starters.”

  1. The ring fell into the toilet.
  2. There were only three eggs left.
  3. Her hand slipped away from his own.
  4. What were the chances that she would be here?
  5. The sugar sand stuck to my fingers like glue.
  6. The shadows danced against the cave.
  7. His skin smelled of fresh rain and cedar.
  8. She was caught in the downpour.
  9. The eyes of the predator gleamed red.
  10. They heard a scratching sound.
  11. Open the door.
  12. They danced around in circles.
  13. Who ate all the Pop-Tarts?
  14. I can’t breathe.
  15. The water from the faucet dropped in a slow and steady beat.
  16. She couldn’t hear the words coming out of his mouth.
  17. Patience ripped open the contents of the bag.
  18. The lock wouldn’t budge.
  19. A blood curdling scream echoed into the night.
  20. His lips curled back before he struck.

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Writing prompts help get us out of the non writing zone when we aren’t feeling creative on our own. Here’s a tip, if you get stuck add “and then” at the end of your sentence. Feel free to use my one sentence starter at the beginning, middle, or end of your story. By all means, reword them if they aren’t quite working for you. I promise I won’t take offense.

Writing Therapy

Writing therapy for you can do about the same thing as talking to someone about a problem you are facing. Have you felt better after talking to someone about a challenge or issue? How did you feel afterward? You probably felt like a huge burden lift off your shoulders. The things that were bothering you were most likely clearer. Why? Because you saw it from a different perspective.

Yes, I’m talking about mental health again. The history of mental health in my family helped me understand me. I’m learning that I don’t have to allow it to consume my life. Over the years I worked in reception for a couple of different psychiatrists. I never would have imagined that I was learning about pieces of myself through the patients we saw and interacted with on a daily basis. I didn’t know that what I had been experiencing for the last twenty years was depression. This thing that I was struggling with become common knowledge to me until last year. It is so much easier to spot when I look back on my past.

For me, depression lingers long after my manic episodes pass. My daughter, Brooklyn loves to sing, “Rain, Rain, Go Away.” Call me silly or juvenile, but this is how I feel about the heavy rain cloud of depression. I’m sure there’s a great adult version out there, but I have yet to find it.

When in doubt, Write It Out.

The American Psychological Association says that writing therapy can strengthen your immune system as well as your mind. When you feel those thoughts of fear, doubt, worry, anxiety, or depression take over do yourself a favor and grab your notebook. Write out your struggles. It’s a no-judgment zone. I am the only judge of my entries. It’s comforting to know that I could take whatever I was going through and put it on paper. As an only child, I didn’t have a sibling to confide in and writing gave me the freedom to talk about the things that were going through my head at any time of day. There were no time constraints.

I have kept a journal since 1990 and have plenty of entries I’d like to burn, but I keep them. I hardly reread them, but when I do they help me see the darkness I was experiencing. On my days when depression isn’t an issue, it is easy to say, “What in the hell was I thinking?”

I can say that 90% of the time, I feel so much better. I’ve worked it all out of my mind and into something that I could see. The rewind and play loop I was stuck in vanishes and I can go about my day. My biggest struggle when I’m in that pit is grabbing the notebook, so keep it close.

Where to Start?

Anywhere in your thinking. Start at the top. When did you begin to feel the downward slide? The key is finding out the when and where. In my own life, I can establish pinpoints on when it began, so when it pops up again, I can do my best to stop myself from escalating the issue. Your reaction has everything to do with where your head will go. Try making it a daily practice. It’s a habit I’m working on reestablishing. I’ve been on a three-day writing streak. Now I only have 27 more days before I can make it an official habit. I’m all about establishing a habit when I can stick with it for 30 days straight.

If you can’t or don’t want to write there are plenty of other things to do to help clear your head. As with everything in your life from diet, exercise, or your writing habits, you have to find out what works for you. Trial and error my friends, but you’ll get there.

When I’m going through that terrible low mood I first turn to writing. If that doesn’t work I start out with meditation and follow it with yoga and then knitting. I would love to hear from you. What’s in your toolbox?