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Hi <<First Name>>, 

Having a creative outlet is supposedly a great indicator of mental health, and yet, when you’re staring at an empty page, it doesn’t feel that way. I would love to see an official study, but if I were to guess which artists are most likely to have mental health challenges, I would say writers. Writers in particular have a lure around disordered thinking and behavior. Ernest Hemingway had depression and bipolar disorder, and drank so much that he has a daiquiri named after him, a strong and delicious one at that. Sylvia Path wrote about receiving electro-shock therapy for her depression. In her episode of the Highwater Podcast, poet Bassey Ikpi and I talked about how mental illness affects the creative process.  So what is it about writing, as opposed to painting, designing, making clothes and other crafts? One theory I have is that the nature of writing is part of the problem. Writing is usually done while sitting down, with limited movement, in a solitary environment.

In the book “The Creative Cure” by Carrie Barron M.D., which I highly recommend, the author writes about creating a mental health plan centered around creative work. The key is to
find work that allows you to use your hands. If you are a writer or your tools have low physical demands, try a creative outlet that is more tactile and kinetic.

Because I spend so much time in front of a keyboard, for both my primary creative pursuit and my day job, I’ve tapped into the healing powers of creativity by taking on a sewing project. The feeling when I sew is way different from how I feel when I write. Even though I am a better writer than a seamstress, I don’t get as frustrated. I’m able to enter the state of flow more quickly. Having a tangible finished product, one that I can hold in my hands or wear on my back, is a different feeling as well.

If your creative practice isn’t doing your mental health any favors, consider taking on a hobby that requires you to use your limbs. Safety first, of course.

Creating a Cure,

This Week's Highwater Podcast: 
On this week's episode, Artist and Counselor Alice Berry gives great advice to artists and creatives who are dealing with mental health challenges.  Listen here. (27 minutes)
Highwater Weekly Picks  
Note: Award details and deadlines are subject to change. Consult each application website for the most accurate and up-to-date information. 

  • WRITERS WHO TEACH: Creative Nonfiction magazine is awarding $1,000 and $500 for the best essay and runner-up selected for their Spring 2017 issue. The magazine is looking for essays up to 4,000 words about the teaching experience. Deadline: August 29. Apply here. 
Playlist: Podcast Edition
  • Every episode of Malcolm Gladwell's podcast series Revisionist History is amazing, but this week's episode is an awesome deep-dive into the fragile nature of creative genius. The fact that it also tells the story of the song "Hallelujah," made famous by the late singer Jeff Buckley, makes it even better. Listen here
  • I Am Not Your Guru, the Netflix-produced documentary about Tony Robbins had me crying in the first five minutes. It's a fascinating look at Robbins' methods, life and life-changing seminars. He's not your guru, but he is the real deal. Watch here
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