A Wellness and Writing “Round Up”

A Wellness and Writing “Round Up”

I’m sure that everyone is exhausted by this point in the semester and is ready to get to the final high of hitting the last ‘submit’. Because I’m right there with everyone else, I decided to take a step back from overly analyzing a topic within wellness and writing and instead share some resources I have found fun or helpful throughout the semester, specifically around writing. I was inspired by Roxane Gay’s “The Audacioius Round Up” that she sends out to her substack subscribers and so I’ve created a Wellness and Writing round up of my own that encompasses magazines, podcasts, blogs, zines, and Instagram accounts – check it out below, and if you get inspired, make one of your own and share it out: 

  1. Because I have drawn a massive amount of inspiration from Roxane Gay lately, I have to start by sharing the many different projects she is working on lately (Go look up all her books as well). If you can’t catch her Masterclass on writing, or her Opinion and Work Friend pieces in the NYT, or read/listen to her impactful essay Writing into the Wound: Understanding trauma, truth, and language on Scribd, OR listen to her podcast Hear to Slay – you have to at least check out her substack account The Audacity and soak in her masterful way with writing. The way she uses this craft to be in conversation with society and gives voice to what needs to change within it is something I can only hope to come close to one day. In addition to being a great example of someone who uses their writing to reach a wide audience, what I respect and love about Gay’s writing is her voice, humor, and ‘audacity’ to try so many different kinds of writing. She inspires me to think in ways that aren’t so limited and to want to try different styles of writing, even if I end up not succeeding. 
  1. Someone I found because they were highlighted in an Antiracism Daily post (which you should also check out on Instagram) is Ida Yalzadeh who is a professor for the Asian American Studies Program at Northwestern University. She also does a regular round up of different things she is reading and watching and her substack is full of insightful advice on writing, researching, and being involved in social justice. One thing I want to highlight in particular is the zine she created about her graduate experience during her time at Brown University. It is more centered on pursuing a PhD, but I found a lot of it to be helpful for my own process in trying to figure out how to start organizing my research and for learning about resources that are helpful in navigating academia. 
  1. I tweeted about this a little while back, but as I have gone through my Research and Writing class, I have been desperate for anything that can help explain research methods to me in an approachable way. A great resource is a podcast out of Oregon State University called “Research in Action”. The podcasts cover a wide range of topics around research and research methods and lead to me finding some great follow up resources to check out. 
  1. One of these follow up resources was the blog The Thesis Whisperer and her post about “the bedraggled daisy” diagram which was a unique approach to doing a kind of concept map. The creator of the blog, Inger Mewburn, is a professor and researcher from The Australian National University and she talks about research in an approachable and understanding way that is refreshing.  
  1. Finally, to return to Roxane Gay, one of the tips she gives in her Masterclass is reading about other writers and their writing process. Specifically, she mentions that she enjoys reading the Paris Review. When I checked it out, I found my way to one of their old issues from 1984 that had an interview with James Baldwin about his life and writing. This interview was one of the most enjoyable and rich pieces of reading I have sat down to in a long time. If you want to check the Paris Review out, I recommend starting there. 

All right, that is my list of some of the most inspirational readings and ‘listenings’ I did this semester on writing. Seriously, try making your own list – it makes for great productive procrastination…er I mean end of semester reflection.

Getting Gritty with It!

Firstly, I would like to start this post by thanking my colleague, Amber, for introducing the writing and wellness series and its purpose in a succinct and empathetic manner. It’s never been easy to start a conversation regarding ideas of wellness and self-care in such a fast-paced and rapidly changing society, and it hasn’t gotten any easier with a pandemic that has pushed it to the forefront in an almost toxic, fear-of-missing-out manner. But, we are here to persevere and break new ground together! 

This week, what I found to be a most interesting idea for us to work with came from the school of positive psychology, with the idea of grit. Grit, according to Angela Duckworth, the primary researcher on this topic, is best defined as the ability of an individual to sustain interest and dedication toward a specific goal, no matter what comes in between or how they ultimately reach their desired destination. In terms of our studies, the end goal is always clear; to get through a class, a semester, a degree. But what about beyond that? What is it that we value, and where is it that we want to steer ourselves? 

If you’re anything like me, there are a million and one thoughts racing through your mind right now about everything you may have left unsaid, things you have yet to do, so on and so forth. But, consider how the principle of grit can not only settle these thoughts but also steer our writing and creative processes. As a writing prompt of sorts, try to map out these questions and see what sort of intrinsic findings you come across: 

  1. How do you normally deal with hardships? What is it about failure that either excites or scares you? 
  2. What is it that is keeping you engaged with your current project? Is there a very deep, personal meaning for you?
  3. At the end of this project, what is it that you hope to see reflected? What do you hope others will see?

Remember, you can look at these questions from any angle and map out your responses in any sort of manner. Diagrams, drawings, a creative response, even a stream-of-consciousness rant are all fair game here. Perhaps, if we are able to layout these framework-oriented thoughts, the road ahead may become just a bit clearer. 

Be sure to check back for our next writing and wellness activity! Share out how you approached this, and interact with us on Twitter @KUWSP, or on Instagram @ku_wp. 

Do we really need more articles on wellness?

A recent poll asked “How much time do you spend talking about wellness versus actually doing it?” Of those that responded, 85% of people said that they spend more time talking about wellness and less time doing it. Actually, I just made all of that up, there was no real poll. But it isn’t hard to look around and find plenty of articles that say something to the same effect: we are all stressed, fatigued, isolated, bored, etc. and so we need to be doing more to make sure we don’t spiral. 

Though I have found valuable help in articles on self-care, I have to admit there is something about them now that creates a feeling of discomfort. Maybe it is just me, but it seems that the unforeseen consequence of a flux of articles, statistics, podcasts, posts, etc. about wellness during this pandemic is that there is a paradoxical feeling of stress. When you are confronted with everything you should do to be well and compare it to what you actually do (or have the time, resources, mental capacity, support to actually do), it can feel overwhelming to discuss wellness. So if we are already overwhelmed with everyone and their Zoom famous cat and dog telling us how to take care of ourselves during this pandemic, do we really need to hear more about wellness? 

Well, the answer to that is about as straight-forward as any other topic at this point in our society – it’s complicated. I have to say up front that there is always going to be an importance in raising awareness about wellness. Most everyone goes through waves when it comes to where they are at in their wellness journey. That is why it isn’t such a bad thing to have so many reminders. If we find we have been sitting for too long again, or drinking one too many cups of coffee, or descending into a negative self-talk spiral, we can see that annoying article that once again prompts us to get up, drink some water, and do some self-affirmations. But for those burned out on wellness, for those who feel like they don’t have the means to be well, for those facing bigger picture fights for wellness – how can we have a more nuanced conversation about what it really means to be well? How can we still emphasize the importance of developing a practice of wellness, while discussing the real struggles that go with these practices?

For the rest of the semester we will do a blog series about both wellness and writing that explores how to approach wellness in ways that acknowledges its importance, but discusses its complexity. Because a practice of writing in a writing program is truly inseparable from a practice of wellness, we will also be talking about writing practices and the complexities that go with that as well. Perhaps, as a community, we can act as pillars of support and lean on one another from time to time as we talk about some of these difficult or frustrating topics. We hope that as we progress with the series that you will share your thoughts and experiences and join us in wrestling with Wellness and Writing.