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Hilary McMeeking | Counselling in Cheltenham

Writing for Wellbeing

Writing is an excellent tool to identify things in your unconscious mind that might go under the radar of our daily awareness. It can be therapeutic and is low cost too, all you need is paper or a journal and a pen or pencil. Writing can provide clarity and direction which can bring movement and growth.

There are 4 guidelines for free-writing practice:

  1. Write by hand, with pen and paper.

  2. Write either for a fixed period of time–15 minutes is a good place to start– or

    a certain number of pages.

  3. Don’t censor or edit while you write. Let anything come out, even if it is

    gibberish, or horrifying! Remember: no judgment. If you lose your train of thought or don’t know what to write next, then write, “I don’t know what to write and I blah blah blah.....” Eventually, something will come and you’ll get back in the flow. The thinking mind will try to edit strange ideas and sabotage your subconscious, which is where all the juicy stuff is.

  4. Perhaps most importantly: do not share this! You will write more freely and honestly if you know this is FOR YOUR EYES ONLY! But if you want to share it in a therapy session you can of course bring it to your next session but there will be no pressure from me that you do.

You can use this practice in different ways:


  • Write a 'no send' letter to someone alive or dead. This can help you say things to someone that you haven't been able to say in person. This may be angry things or regrets perhaps. The process of getting everything on to paper can be therapeutic in itself. You may want to keep the letter to remind you of something or, especially if you have expressed anger, you may like to think of a satisfying way to destroy what you have written safely.


  • Write to yourself as a child. Perhaps there is an age, or time in your past, where you needed some reassurance or comfort. Write down what your child needed to hear at that time in it's life and keep it somewhere safe.

  • Use free-writing to “clear the decks” of your mind, downloading after you’ve had an argument, for example, or when you need clarity about which direction to take.

  • Identify habitual patterns, asking for clarity on why certain unhealthy habits arise in you. Ask open-ended questions like, “How am I getting in my own way?” or “why do I keep getting into trouble?” and see what comes out.

  • Incorporate this practice into your daily routine to keep creative juices flowing and encourage a more conscious approach to life. Ask for inspiration. Done with intention, free-writing can definitely be considered an awareness practice and lead you to increased creativity.

  • Ask specific questions when you have choices to make and are uncertain about a situation. You can use the journaling prompts below to get you started.

15 Journaling Prompts For Mental Health:

  1. What’s going on for me right now is...

  2. What really makes me happy is...

  3. If I knew I could not fail, I would...

  4. The last time I felt this way, I...

  5. What’s not working for me right now is...

  6. What I wish I could change.

  7. What I need to accept is...

  8. The most important thing in my life is...

  9. What’s really bugging me right now.

  10. If I could say one thing to ___________ I would tell them...

  11. I know when I’m feeling good because when I feel good I ....

  12. To be honest, I would rather...

  13. What do I need to let go of?

  14. Who do I admire and why?

  15. What does my inner critic say? Respond to it in dialogue.

Try visual journaling:

As a variation, create a vision board that reflects your state of mind or one that you’d like to invite. Find images that reflect your intention and make a collage with them. You can do it with paper, glue and scissors, or you can also find apps online these days. Use your imagination! Try these visual journal ideas:

  1. Where would you like to expand your horizons?

  2. Things you’d like to let go...

  3. How you envision a new phase or relationship?

  4. Your ideal situation would look like this...

  5. How would you show up as your best self?

Mental Health + The Creative Process

We are born to be creative. This is how we develop as fully alive human beings – by manifesting that unique seed of life force that is in each of us. But you have to nourish that seed for it to grow.

Just like the body needs sleep in order to function optimally, the mind also needs rest. Mobile phones, social media and internet have virtually blocked easy access to this vital necessity. White space or down time allows the thinking mind to take rest so that new neural connections can be made and new ideas formed. Holding a paintbrush or a pen can bring you back to yourself. The simple act of letting go seems to magically release a flood of insights. Making art, which includes writing, can form a sort of meditation practice.

Tapping Into The Creative Process

When you write regularly, you start to grow. It's also a way to observe your growth. Each creative thing you do keeps you in the process of being in the present moment. Once you start paying attention to this, you also start to see changes in your life. Things can become calmer, you find you can express yourself more easily, find your voice and yourself in the process. This will encourage you to grow in positive directions.

When you allow your creativity to have a voice, your own voice becomes more clear, allowing your inner wisdom to shine.

With thanks to Naomi Hope Counselling for providing some of this information.

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