Tips for writing through mental illness

A friend I’ve made online recently commented that she was amazed I could keep up my Instagram while experiencing mental illness.

As writer Joan Didion said, ‘I don’t know what I think until I write about it’.

Writing for me is not a chore; it is a form of creative expression and a spiritual dedication. It has the added benefit of helping me to process and better understand my own emotions and thoughts.

One of the side-effects of a new medicine I am taking is that I sometimes have trouble remembering the word that I want to use, which I find very frustrating. I know in my head what I want to describe - and I know a word exists for it, - but I am unable to remember what that word is.

For anyone else who is struggling with brain fog, or who even just wants a few pointers on how to direct their creativity into writing, I thought I would share a few tips.

✨ Use voice to text. At the moment I find I can better articulate myself through spoken word, so I use the voice to text function on my phone and then go back through and edit my words.

✨ Restructure your words with your audience in mind. My writing often comes out as a stream of consciousness that makes sense to me but may not make sense to someone reading it. I go back over my notes and I move paragraphs around and add new ideas, all the while thinking ‘would this make sense to a stranger?’

✨ Come back with fresh eyes. I never publish something as soon as I write it. I always leave it overnight and return with fresh eyes. This enables me to get closer to my audience’s perspective and see the writing through fresh eyes.

✨ Get feedback. My biggest fear on here is that I will overshare or that I will inadvertently trigger someone. I often send my writing to my mum for her advice. Not only is my mum a beautiful writer, but she is also a mental health professional and has earned a doctorate so she understands the writing process with all its ups and downs. Her feedback helps me to fine tune my writing and ensure that I am not inadvertently causing harm with my words.

If you have tips that you don’t see on this list I’d love to hear them!

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