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Words for Wellbeing Coach Samantha Gray on Her Work With Nottingham Writers’ Studio and Why You Should Get a Journal

3 November 21 interview: Lizzy O’Riordan

Writing can be a transformative experience. For this month’s Wellness Section, we chat with Words for Wellbeing coach Samantha Gray about therapeutic writing, her work with Nottingham Writers’ Studio, and why you should get a journal…

You run a course called Words for Wellbeing with the Nottingham Writers’ Studio…
I’ve been with the studio since 2016, so over five years now. The first Words for Wellbeing I ever did was geared towards people experiencing depression, which we called the Blue Monday Course. It’s a real mixture of journaling, reflecting and creative writing, working around that link between creativity and wellbeing. I was trained in poetry therapy so that’s the model I work with, but different practitioners will take different approaches.

Is the idea of writing for wellbeing a popular one?
A lot of people are doing research into the therapeutic benefits of writing and I think there’s a lot of energy behind the field at the moment.

Were you always interested in journaling?
I think I’ve always gravitated towards reading and writing, like a cat who sits in a patch of sunshine. Then from age twenty-seven to thirty I experienced a lot of back-to-back bereavement that culminated in the loss of one of my sons. I used writing all the way through and I wrote an article about how journaling and creativity supported me through loss. I realised that I wanted that professional network so I sought out some training and I worked with a mentor who was a kind of pioneer for therapeutic writing. Then I knocked on the door of the Writers’ Studio and they were so lovely and invited me to run a course there.


It’s a real mixture of journaling, reflecting and creative writing, working around that link between creativity and wellbeing

Writing is great because it’s so accessible…
Yeah, writing is such an accessible tool! I always say that journaling is like eating fruit; when I journal, I always feel better. Through lockdown I’ve been consistent with it and it’s been an anchor, so I’m eager to pass that on to other people. That link between creativity and wellbeing is so strong.

For any at home readers, how could they start using the tool of writing?
I think I’d recommend a journal. I do think there’s a potential with journaling to get too enmeshed in a difficult subject, so give yourself space to step out and reflect. If I use journaling techniques in session, I deliberately make them quite short. Writing has been compared to fire, because it has that potential for transformation, but you need to be safe with it as well.

Anything else you’d like to say to LeftLion readers?
There’s so much potential for writing to help people, and it’s getting over the thought that writing only belongs to a certain group of people. Words belong to everybody, and there’s no hierarchy. It’s not writing to produce anything, but it’s creating material to reflect on.

Also, if you’re interested in the work, you can always reach me either through LinkedIn or the Nottingham Writers’ Studio. 

Samantha Gray will be returning to Nottingham Writers’ Studio on November 6 for a member-led talk on Writing for Wellbeing.

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