I’m a great believer in the arts being good for the soul, that the arts are therapeutic and are something we need despite there not being an obvious biological need for them.
Writing helps me unwind and it is a lot of fun creating articles for Chandler’s Ford Today as well as my short stories and novels. And I’m definitely not the only one to believe this.
There are studies showing that creative writing, including for non-fiction, can help to improve the writer’s mood, their outlook on life, can speed up healing in some cases and can reduce stress (with the resulting benefits of that reduction helping the body in various ways – reducing blood pressure is I think the obvious example).
I was delighted to discover, on a recent visit to Hiltingbury Post Office, details of a company called Chocolate Muffin Publishing, whose work is based solely around helping others to create their own stories and publish them as books. They are based in Chandler’s Ford and the company name was suggested to Kate Day, its chief director, by her daughter. And I must admit I like it. Is there anyone out there who doesn’t like chocolate muffins? Really? It’s a nice association of ideas.
The company works with schools and individuals, including those with dementia. All staff are thoroughly vetted. The idea behind Chocolate Muffin Publishing’s remit is to improve confidence and encourage the use of the imagination.
Writing regularly can and should lead to the writer being able to communicate in better ways. Practice does make perfect. Better communication leads to less misunderstandings and so on.
And the great thing is writing does not discriminate against age, gender and so on. All can enjoy writing though so often it can be a question of getting that initial spark going which then leads to a lifetime of loving stories, books and creativity. This is where people like Chocolate Muffin Publishing can play a good role in getting that spark started, which is why I was pleased to discover them.
And writing can and should improve a writer’s learning. I’ve explored all sorts of avenues since writing for Chandler’s Ford Today – everything from Shakespeare and his times to investigating and reporting on credit/debit card and ATM scams in recent posts – which I would almost certainly not have done if I had just stuck to writing fiction.
The more you try to learn, the more active your brain is and while little can definitely prevent certain diseases like dementia, keeping the mind active is a good thing in itself.
Online Support Groups – Creative Writing as Therapy
There are online groups which co-ordinate those wishing to help encourage creative writing as therapy. One example is Lapidus, which acts as a networking and information point for those interested in working with others via writing. They list events, courses, workshops and meetings and promote writing for well being.
Another group working on similar lines is called Write As Rain and they too help individuals and groups. I must admit I had not heard of either group before researching this post (I’m learning again!) but think this work is a wonderful idea. And from my viewpoint this is another great example of creative non-fiction writing – it improves my knowledge of what is out there as I research links into my posts. I hope to explore more of these two websites for my own interest away from writing for CFT!
I love the thought of creative writing for its own sake but to encourage others to develop a love for it, I think, is great. At the very least it should give them a lifelong love of books and reading and, in the case of dementia sufferers especially, I hope bring the joy of creativity into lives where other aspects of life are not so good.
In the case of helping children to produce stories and books as Chocolate Muffin Publishing helps them to do, I would say developing the imagination can spill over in all areas of life.
It is my belief our greatest engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, was a genius because he had the imagination to create new ideas (the suspension bridge to name but one example) and then to do what was necessary practically to achieve it. But without that imagination he would not have been the genius we know him to be.
Other obvious examples of this in the writing field are Shakespeare and Dickens, who took what they knew of life, added imagination and came up with stories and plays we still love now and which will continue to live on.
Chocolate Muffin Publishing
Chocolate Muffin Publishing works with nurseries (those taking part in this age range are known as Mini Muffins!), mainstream and special schools, colleges, young carers, adult carers, hospitals, child, adolescent and adult mental health services, children, adolescent and adults with learning disabilities, children adolescents and adults with serious and life threatening illnesses, individuals with dementia and those who have having home education.
Staff from Chocolate Muffin Publishing guide individuals through writing and illustrating their own story. At the end of the course this is then professionally printed and published into an individual story book. There is then a book signing event, when the authors invite family, staff and friends to see them receive their books and certificates and sign their work. This is very much a “I can do this/I have done this” school of thought.
The course runs over 5 weeks with each session lasting for an hour though Chocolate Muffin Publishing say this can be adapted to individual needs.
Indeed one of the questions I put to Kate Day, who is Chocolate Muffin Publishing’s chief director, when I met her recently was whether they did adapt especially when working with dementia patients. My own knowledge of dementia shows that the patient, yet alone someone like Chocolate Muffin Publishing, cannot know how they will be on the day of the course. And yes, the company are flexible here. They have to be. The whole idea of the project is that the creating of a story and publishing it has to be fun. And in the case of dementia patients, it is a case of going with the flow.
Chocolate Muffin Publishing’s workshop costs start from £55.00 per person and includes one copy of the published book and four places at the book signing event. There are more details on their website.
Chocolate Muffin Publishing, who are self funded, have been running for six years and it was a nice coincidence I met Kate on their anniversary date – 15th March 2016.
I had a fascinating chat with Kate and plan to share this in a future post.
In the meantime, on the grounds I love creative endeavour, especially when it tries to help people, I wish Chocolate Muffin Publishing well with their venture.
Related posts: Here are some of my related posts.
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