“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” ― Audre Lorde
Writing is a way for me to hit the “refresh” button. To wring myself out when I feel like a crumpled rag or just get my feelings out in one long diatribe (that no one will ever need to see). I have definitely been through difficult times when I began to wonder if anything made me feel calm and at ease. Whether it was local trouble – seeing the homeless line the freeway underpasses here in Los Angeles and the pain of knowing how unkind society can be. Violence on the news and the constant squabbling in government. Watching a documentary about refugees trying to find a safe place to live when their hometown has been reduced to rubble. There are a lot of troubles out there and if that is all you tune-in to it can be very easy to miss the uplifting things. I heard a saying once that made me remember that I am only one person – “You don’t have to hang the stars in the sky.” When the issues seem insurmountable it is nice to take a moment of gratitude for my personal safety, what I have achieved, and know that I am not personally responsible for the pain I recognize in the world.
Here are some ideas for using writing as part of your self-care regimen. Definitely add some physical and sensual self-care with a mug of hot tea, a bath, a massage, a bit of yoga, a jog or whatever puts you in a nurturing headspace.
General Questions for Re-Centering Yourself in Your Writing
What do I see going on around me?
How do the people around me feel?
In this moment what do I have control over?
How can I make myself feel at peace in this moment?
When was the last time I remember being filled with joy?
What actions or situations bring a feeling of ease and contentment into my life?
More Tactical Writing Prompts: Ways to Use Writing to Enact Change
What can my writing change? Can I write a letter to my representative? Can I tell someone who means a lot to me how they have helped me? How can I use my skills in expression to brighten someone’s day?
What do I just need to get out of my head? What ugly/disturbing feelings are making me unhappy? Knowing that they are completely natural, how do I expel them? Do I need to “change the channel” in my mind? One way is to simply acknowledge the thought and then focus your thoughts on something else like a positive memory (a meal, a party, a hike) leading your mind in the direction you want to go.
What do I think is going to happen? We know we can’t predict the future although we often try to.
Respond to a writer you are inspired by. Use a quote as a writing prompt, such as, “You don’t write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say.” (F. Scott Fitzgerald)
Write something to help other people take a break for a while. Some of the best fiction is a completely engrossing story that you just can’t pull your head out of. Write a fun page-turner and get that energy out on the computer.
Some Ideas for Finding Writing Solace and Inspiration
Silence: I like to wear noise reducing headphones.
Cultivated Meditative Space: I live near Paramahansa Yogananda’s Self-Realization Fellowship. I am 100% honest when I say that I really have no idea what they are about, but they allow people to meditate on their grounds which are amazingly beautiful.
A Public or Private Library: I like it for the dusty book smell. But being around other people who have open minds ready to learn is a good thing.
A Museum: All of the incredible history! So many sculptors, painters, artists trying to tell their story and get their point across through time. I’m always left in awe.
Botanical Garden: There is so much variety in nature, the colors of petals and the shapes of exotic flora. Endless inspiration!
Please comment if you have any self-care practices you use with writing and how they work to help you overcome the intensity of the day-today on this floating marble called Earth.