Online counseling is fast becoming a practice preferred by therapists and clients. The fast and continuous growth of technology has paved the way for such advancements and has changed the way we see counseling. Once formally termed as an alternative therapy, online counseling has surpassed traditional counseling and bridged different issues such as accessibility, convenience and more.
If you have a thing for writing or you love expressing yourself through words, you might want to consider participating in the 2015 Pennsylvania Technical Writing Contest. Continue reading “Turning Ideas Into Realities: What To Expect From The 2015 Pennsylvania Technical Writing Contest”
If you’ve been writing for quite some time now, then you have experienced rejection just like me. Customers have passed me by as I stand beside my books in the library. My agents left me for other clients. Been refused by publishers and editors. And mind you, I did feel how you feel now – frustrated, lonely, and lousy.
What do you call how you feel? The blues, perhaps? Whatever it is, you are going through a bumpy road that seems to run forever. Well, it’s more than that. You may be having an onset of depression or struggling with another kind of mental health condition. As stated by Kristen Fuller, M.D. “Major depressive disorder is a mood disorder that affects more than 15 million adults in the United States.” When you’re a writer, you tend to over-contemplate your world, and it may even destroy you instead of clarifying things for you.
Moving Towards Depression
I’ve been working for five years as a writer for a rehabilitation facility. It was such a fulfilling job for me, and I didn’t mind writing more than a thousand articles for them. But then, after the fifth year, I realized that I was mostly alone for the past five years. I eventually felt isolated and then depressed.
As I share this experience, I would not want you to assume that all loners get depressed sooner or later. I’m just saying that you are more vulnerable to suffer from it. Additionally, if you’ve had depression before, you may not notice that you have it now. When I had it, it felt like my normal state.
If you think you’re depressed, try asking yourself these questions:
- Do you feel a little more sad than usual, and you have overwhelming feelings of anxiety, hopelessness, and devastation?
- Are you pessimistic today than the rest of the days and you can’t seem to see anything hopeful in your life?
- Do you get frustrated and mad easily?
- Do you feel so tired that you don’t want to do your regular routines like exercise and to go to work?
- Are you having trouble focusing, or are you getting forgetful?
- Are you over-sensitive and sometimes cry so hard about something so small?
If you answered mostly yes to the above questions, it would be wise for you to talk to your doctor or visit a therapist. The stigma may still be rampant but believe me; it does help big time. I didn’t think it would help me but talking it out and opening up to someone who was just there to listen and not judge was truly therapeutic.
Writing As Therapy
My therapist advised me to try writing as a form of therapy in conjunction with the talk and the cognitive techniques that he taught me to handle my depressive symptoms better.
What I did, which you also could certainly do, is to remember that writing should bring you happiness. You should delve deep within you and recall how much passion you had for your job and for the art itself. You will have a hard time writing about happiness and love and hope if you don’t for the slightest bit feel these emotions. Discover what you like about what you do and concentrate on that. When you look forward to writing something good, you will feel better, and this will be cultivated into other aspects of your life.
Writing can also aid with other mental illnesses as stated by Robert T Muller Ph.D. “Mental health professionals have observed the therapeutic effects of writing on patients with schizophrenia—finding that the creative process assists these individuals with managing their symptoms.”
Aside from therapy, I was invited by small groups in my community to talk and open up about my love for writing, how it led me to depression, and ultimately helped me heal. Do you have friend writers in your community? Have coffee with them. Sometimes, you just need someone else’s company and perspective to realize that you are not alone. Because according to professionals like Deborah Serani, PsyD, “The best thing you can do for someone with depression is to be there.”
Have you tried to prepare yourself for your writing routine and then getting nothing after about an hour of sitting down and staring at the blank page? I did – I’ve counted once a month for the last six months. It is just draining like something’s seeping all your energy because you’re trying too hard and your brain gets all mushed. They say the term for it is writer’s block. And it happens to everybody, as stated by psychologist and writer Melissa Burkley Ph.D. “Writer’s block is one of the few things that nearly all writers share, no matter where they are in their careers. The beginning writer working on their first book. The bestselling debut novelist trudging through the sophomore slump. The prolific author who fears the well has finally run dry.”
For me, it’s an utter effect of brain burnout. “A lot of burnout really has to do with experiencing chronic stress,” says Dr. David Ballard PsyD. “In those situations, the demands being placed on you exceed the resources you have available to deal with the stressors.”
I believe, though, when they say that writer’s block is impossible to overcome when you’re ‘at the moment.’ But some sneaky strategies might help you move past the block and still end up productive.
- Read Something That You Love.
A good way to break the block is to find inspiration in books that you love. Reading is as helpful as writing in some circumstances, and this is one of those times. If you are fond of magic and the arts, read one of J.K. Rowling’s books. Scan books like Sherlock Holmes if you’re into detective stories. Sometimes you become more anxious and frustrated when the writer’s block slowly sinks in, so books that provide advice on how to be creative and persistent may do you some good.
- Break Down The Task Into Portions.
When you have a writer’s block, and you’re staring at a whole paper, it would look more challenging and intimidating. Try breaking down the task into portions, perhaps starting with a paragraph, filling the page with two or three, and then assigning numbers to them. You may be able to do a little and with slow progress, but at least you’ve done something.
- Hang Out With A Friend While Working.
If you’ve regularly been writing, you’d know that sometimes it’s vital that you get an outside viewpoint on the work you’re doing. It’s not uncommon to get caught up in circles or the inner voice that persuades you to stop writing. So if you’re not in your usual imaginative and motivated self, invite a friend over to provide you with some constructive criticism to help you polish your writing. He may be there only to cheer you up or boost your energy, but he’s going to be a big help.
- Go Work Somewhere Else.
Perhaps you can’t delve into your creativity because you’re too bored looking at the four walls of your home. Try changing your venue and work somewhere else. Check out the new café near you or the charming bookstore that just opened. Smell the brewing coffee while slowly regaining your creative juices. Take time and don’t rush. Maybe you just need a relaxing workspace.
- Your Writer’s Block Will Definitely Pass.
Indeed, the art of writing can be obscure, but there is always an opportunity to grasp it – within the day even! Obviously, when you have a deadline, and you need to write something right now, you don’t have the extravagance of relaxing and contemplating until you get the inspiration. Despite this, you can, and you will be able to write something great.
“It’s easy to get so busy juggling everything you have on your plates that you fail to recognize when you’re headed toward mental exhaustion or burnout,” says Megan MacCutcheon, LPC. This is causing your writer’s block.
Don’t mind that dark voice whispering to convince you to give up. Focus on the deadline at hand, and try doing the strategies mentioned above when writer’s block hits you. If you’re lucky, you’ll see the inspiration right before your eyes. Now work on that – fast!
As a writer, you are obliged to write every day – that is a rule. Great writers like Ernest Hemingway, Margaret Atwood, and Scott Fitzgerald all emphasize the need for working on that pen and paper daily. However, writers ARE humans, which have an annoying desire to ‘go forth and multiply.’ And these human babies that come into the writer’s structured, organized daily writing ritual are greedily apathetic about this rule. It seems like they would do the best that they can to disrupt your huge effort at being the writer you used to be when they were not around.
So now that you’re a mom, could you still possibly be the amazing writer that you were? Of course, you can! Here are some fantastic ways to keep your brain from turning soft and empty from the sleep deprivation and the knee-high poopy diapers that you need to clean out.
- Feed Yourself With Audio Books. There are times when your baby just doesn’t want to sleep at all, and you need to walk her around the house or worse, walk her in her stroller to the park or the neighborhood. The best way to be productive is to listen to some audiobooks that might give you fresh ideas on what to write. You can start with interesting autobiographies of writers, those that don’t need much understanding but ones that give inspiration.
- Make The Structure Of The Story. You can do this while your baby is in the crib playing with his toys or catching for attention with his coos while in his high chair. You can at least sit and think superficially. Just try to create a structure or outline for a story that you are planning to write. If it’s a crime genre you want to write, jot down some bullet points just to organize your thoughts. You know what I mean, right? This always ends up with small plots that you will soon be able to picture.
- Write The Content When The Baby Sleeps. If you are a writer and a mom, then the rule that when babies sleep, you should sleep doesn’t apply all the time. You need to write, and sometimes writing is more crucial than sleeping! Take it from K. Rowling who used to write in her small ‘extra’ moments and created an award-winning series. I know you need to wash those bottles and do the laundry, but you have got to spare a few minutes to write profoundly and without disruption. That is the time that you need to organize your thoughts, solve the puzzles, and come up with short, structured paragraphs. Babies usually sleep two hours at a time, so write during the first hour and then do the chores. Who knows, you might even get an extension of another hour so you can sleep that off.
- Recall Previous And Current Works. The pressures of being a mother and being a writer sometimes get the best of you, especially when you’ve been awake almost the whole night because your baby was having colic (or he just simply wants your attention). If you’re too exhausted to think about a fresh topic to write about, you can dig up the drafts that you didn’t get to finish because you found them uninteresting or had an awkward start. This is your chance to find a twist to these drafts. If you’re lucky, you can transform them into breakthrough manuscripts.
Give it another year or two, and you’ll get your much-needed official writing hours. Your babies will not constantly be looking for you, especially when they’ve learned to rely on cartoons for fun. You won’t get full immunity, of course. You’re a mom, and nothing will change that. But you can learn to live with being that and being an amazing writer – and embrace these roles that you were blessed with.
They say that if you are having trouble making friends, go over to someone’s house and have a meal with him. Those who share their food also share their heart.
The simple meaning of that is that we all love food, right? From the finger-licking chicken to the sizzling tenderloin steak, the gratification of our hunger is worth pursuing. Perhaps that’s mostly the reason for a lot of writers to write about food. Are you one of them?
If you are eager to be a food critic/food blogger/food writer, you can consider several interesting niches you can focus on. However, before anything, we must first read some pieces of advice on how to become a successful food writer.
- Food is a sensual topic, so you should emphasize on the main senses to capture your readers’ attention. Examine a dish and observe the colors, the appearance, and the smell. Next, taste it and describe how it feels in your mouth in concise and descriptive words.
- Don’t use common words all the time. Yummy or delicious is too elementary, and if they bore you, then it will bore your readers. It’s a food article, so it has to be exciting and worth looking forward to. Choose words that make the reader imagine that the food you’re writing about is right in front of him. Try smooth, or dripping or a feast for the palate.
- Don’t use too many adjectives. It will sound like you’re over-decorating an already tasteful cake. First describe the food as you see, smell, and taste it. You start strong this way, with a description of the subject as it is. Once you read it and find it descriptive enough, you don’t need to embellish it with useless words.
Do keep in mind that there are a lot of food writers all over the world, even in your city. So you have got to be different from them to effectively get a following of readers who will stay with you and look forward to your next article.
Now, let’s look at some of the various niches in the area of food. You might find one that you will find intriguing and interesting.
- This will most likely be a bestseller if you cook yourself – or you have a lovely grandmother who knows a lot of original recipes. The secret is to look for a new approach or a fresh technique, although kind of cooking is the same. Write recipes with a twist, those that require someone to read your article to learn the new methods.
- Restaurant Reviews. This is more enjoyable in a way because you get to travel, get to experience different restaurants, and finally eat what you will write about. You can start in your place. Make a review of the five most popular restaurants around your city. You can even create a blog or have the local paper publish your reviews. It’s not only good for your career but also increased publicity of the restaurants you review.
- Famous Chefs. This is quite a selective genre, one that is narrowed down to the cooks who are well-known for their specific cuisine. Your audience for this will also be relatively specific. Nevertheless, if this works for you, then your followers will be in the thousands. As always, it is good to start within your place, sort of a training ground. You probably know the owners of the restaurants so you will be more comfortable to talk to them. Soon, you’ll head to Italy and dine with famous chefs who made a name because of their unique recipes.
That’s it! Did I leave anything out? Yes, the last thing you need to do – is to start writing now!
It is not all day that you feel happy and fulfilled. There are times that you can become so sad and terrible for no reason. There are cases that you don’t want to talk to other people because you think you wouldn’t have anything to say. Don’t worry. Everybody feels that way too. It’s not just you. However, in times like these where people’s comforts are not needed, and you wished to be alone, there is one thing you can always do. That is to write everything you feel. In writing, you won’t entirely need much. Your friends and family do not need to know you are journaling. And if in case you want your privacy that much, you don’t have to let your therapist read it.
What Can You Write?
You can write anything in your journal. Whether it is a sad and exhausting moment or a happy one, it doesn’t matter. As long as you are comfortable expressing yourself, that is okay. Honestly, you do not need to find a topic for each day of writing. You can even jot down quotes that express your current mood or make a list of things that you are thankful for the day. You can also write stories and let your imagination out. You can create poems and compose a song. You see, the idea of writing is endless. So you don’t entirely need to put too much pressure on what is applicable or not.
Why Would You Need It?
There is no exact reason why you have to have a journal. Psychotherapist and yoga therapist Dr. Lynn Somerstein, RYT said “[I] use journal writing techniques with people who have difficulty processing their thoughts.” Truthfully, it is still your choice and preference. But the reason why most mental health expert often convinces you to do it is because of the emotional and psychological development you can get from journaling. A lot of mental health professionals believe that writing can potentially make you change your outlook in life. That is because it is something that will help you on your journey. Surely you feel comfortable writing and reading your thoughts. Sometimes it can make you laugh, but most of the times, it can make you realize the things that are worth your attention.
What’s In It For You?
Writing your emotions in a day to day basis is something that takes courage. That is because not all people are open about how they feel. Some are scared to know the damaging parts of their emotional and mentally distraught. Perhaps that is why they do not often want to talk about it and choose not to care at some point. But in journaling, there is the passion of getting deep into one’s self. It becomes advantageous because it allows you to answer questions concerning your values, importance, vision, goals, and purpose in life. From there, you begin to think outside the box.
Why Should You Start Writing?
If you will agree, it is more likely appropriate to say that there are so many things that you can do to discover yourself. It doesn’t have to take a while to understand how you think, behave, and respond. Journaling is something that can make you realize that you are not what you think you are, or maybe more than what you think you can become. You should start writing because it allows you to formulate your dreams and understand your thoughts and emotions. Not only for the advantage of others but to help you grow as well. Maud Purcell, a psychotherapist and journaling expert, “While your left brain is occupied, your right brain is free to do what it does best, i.e. create, intuit and feel. In this way, writing removes mental blocks and allows us to use more of our brainpower to better understand ourselves and the world around us.”
What’s The Importance Of Expressing Yourself?
The truth is, getting disconnected from yourself creates damage in your life. You get to experience burnout because you are caught up with different task every day. Aside from that, you are also prone to emotional struggle due to social stress, family expectations, relationship issues, and so on. But when you try and express yourself the way you understand, you will realize that the art of writing your emotions can tap into your state of self-awareness. (“Self-awareness is the key cornerstone to emotional intelligence,” according to psychologist Daniel Goleman.) Your mind, body, and soul get reconnected. There are calmness and peace that you will find from the thoughts of perfectionism and pessimism.
Writing a journal is not compulsory at all. The truth is, it is, in fact, a hobby. But what’s good about it is its ability to bring you the kind of mindfulness you deserve. Because with all the toxicity you will find in this world, you can never have enough time to think about things thoroughly. But with journaling, sitting down and writing on your notebook secure ease to a cluttered mind.
Sometimes, when we think about the word “journaling,” it brings us back to our adolescent days wherein we would write in a notebook about our day and on what we feel. We talk about our friends, what happened during our day and of course, talk about the person we like. It is all so cheesy, and we tend to shy away from it now that we are adults. But if you ask psychologists, they would recommend that you still go on with doing it now for therapeutic purposes. Kyle Bourassa said, “To be able to create a story in a structured way—not just re-experience your emotions but make meaning out of them—allows you to process those feelings in a more physiologically adaptive way.”
The most common misconception about journaling is the idea of comparing it to keeping a diary. Yes, people write anything in it such as their anxiety, depression, and even happy moments. That’s because they assume that the process merely follows knowing what things to write. That the details of it should have a certain flow, and that everything about it should have to make sense. However, contrary to that belief, that’s not what journaling is all about. It does not always have to be like that. Though in most cases, it can be for some people.
The Essence Of Journaling
The reason why journaling is an excellent help for emotional and mental wellness is due to its potential use on individuals benefit. That includes having a place to vent and have the means to process through all the things that are happening in their lives. According to Maud Purcell, LCSW, CEAP “Scientific evidence supports that journaling provides other unexpected benefits. The act of writing accesses your left brain, which is analytical and rational. While your left brain is occupied, your right brain is free to create, intuit and feel.” It could be some memorable experience that occurs in the past, or it can be the things that are currently happening today. Journaling allows people to have a place to talk about their feelings toward the whole experience. Therefore, some individuals prefer to write it out like a story or letter form. However, some people don’t do that. Some individuals like to keep a bullet form of journaling. It has something to do with specific things that happened in their lives. There is no elaboration on such thing, but there’s a secured emotional attachment to the written subject. There are also some individuals who use journaling to track down their mood and mental health. It is like writing down two or three emotions they felt in a day. That’s because they find it necessary to note how they are doing so they can manage their improvement towards their wellness goal.
There’s entirely no limit on what people can write in a journal. The whole goal of journaling is to have a place where individuals share their thoughts, feelings, and experience. It doesn’t matter if it’s short or long, as long as there’s a full expression of what people need to vent out. Because when there is a basic tracking, and there’s a lot to share, it eventually comes out of the chest. There’s a relieving sense associated with expressing one’s emotional crisis. Another great thing about writing down what’s happening and how individuals are feeling is the power of creating solutions out of the blue. That is because when people see nothing but fears, worries, frustrations, and agitations, they become aware of finding ways to remove it from their system. As stated by Tamara Hill, MS, LPC “I often provide journaling to my own clients who find it difficult to verbalize what bothers them. The tool has proven beneficial not only to them but also to myself, as I learn a great deal about the “internal, hidden world” of the client.” That explains why some people write down their problems in a journal and immediately pay attention to upsetting themselves. With that, there comes an entirely different writing flow that takes place.
Why Some People Don’t Use It
The reason why some individuals are not into journaling is due to the pressure of telling a story. There’s a pressure of expressing one’s emotional and mental state in an accurate and detailed way. These people often focus on how things should start as well as how it should end. They don’t look into the reality that maybe they don’t have all the details of the full story of their lives. That perhaps, the things they have to write are the ones they only have to experience. As much as others see journaling’s benefit to people’s emotional and mental health, it doesn’t entirely work for everybody. Not all can benefit from it because they have different needs. Some people are not good at expressing themselves even in a written form. There are instances where thinking about previous emotions can be hard and uncomfortable to do. Most people are also not aware of what’s going on with their mental and emotional health. Therefore, it creates an issue instead of a solution.
People often forget how bad and good things are going. There’s too much of everything that not all of them can pretty much handle their own emotional and mental needs. Therefore, keeping track in a journal and jotting vital things down can help individuals stay on point with their overall dilemma. And as stated by Sharon Martin, LCSW “Journals aren’t just for teenagers trying to hide their private thoughts from their parents’ prying eyes. Journaling is a helpful therapeutic tool. It’s not going replace mental health treatment from a qualified professional, but it can be a useful addition or way to accelerate your healing.” Not only it allows focus, but it also helps in bringing clarity to one’s mental function.