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Creative writing toolkit

Want to write but don't know where to start? Or want to take the next step with your writing?

Our new toolkit includes useful tips, resources and advice from other people with Parkinson's.

Get creative today!

Creativity is a key tool for taking control of Parkinson's. You asked us to help you develop and promote your creative writing skills, and this toolkit is designed to do just that.

Being creative helps me deal with the emotional and mental aspects of Parkinson's, things like depression, anxiety, frustration and anger.
Nicola Wood, toolkit contributor

The original idea for the toolkit came out of a workshop with people affected by Parkinson's. It's been written and produced by a group of creative writers affected by Parkinson's in collaboration with Parkinson's UK.

Each section will give you hints, tips and links to useful resources that will help you develop your skills, explore new styles of writing, understand the publishing industry and market your work.

It's a tool for everyone, whether you're just starting to think about writing or you're ready to publish your first piece of prose or poetry.

Dip in and out of the sections, download the worksheets, take your time and get creative!

Our contributors and why they write

Maureen Hinton

I am a retired primary school teacher. I was diagnosed in 2010 after taking early retirement a few years earlier - when I knew I couldn't cope with class teaching any more, but had no idea why.

Much of what I write is memory or life writing. I am a mother, grandmother and sister and I enjoy stitching, gardening and sometimes cooking.

Why I write

When we write it’s usually to communicate thoughts and knowledge to others, but a lot of my writing is private. I need it in some way for me.

If I share it, the audience is very small – family members or friends in a writing group who I feel able to trust. So what does it achieve for me?

There is an uncomfortable thought in the back of my mind that I am creating a resource for my future. These memories may one day be read to me as fresh unknown stories.

I also write about incidents from my working life in inner London schools in the 70s, 80s and 90s.

When I share these stories with the writing group I attend, they are known as Maureen's group therapy sessions.

Such writing is not for publication, but putting it all down on paper removes a few ghosts from my life.

Jon Best

My name is Jon and I am a creative writer. I feel better having got that off my chest. I write poetry, short stories, biographical stories and blogs. I was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2006, in my late thirties.

When I heard Parkinson's UK wanted to support creative writing among those with Parkinson's I asked to be involved. I think it is an incredible idea and I have never heard of a charity doing something quite like this. Creativity is linked to health and wellbeing so it makes absolute sense.

Why I write

So, why do I write? Simple answer to a simple question? Primarily I write for me.

I use my writing to help me deal with difficult issues but also to make friends and family smile.

It has helped me to feel more in control by opening up channels for communication previously unknown to me and given me a tool to explore my imagination.

I believe there are no rules for what you can write. It's a personal decision. But if you need help, support or ideas, the toolkit is a resource that is here to help.

If anyone is interested in my writing I have a blog.

Hywel Griffiths

I have been a police officer for more than 30 years and was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1998 at the age of 32. I write poetry and positive feedback encouraged me to write more.

I started to share my poems on the police force's internal web page but as the number of poems increased, I was looking to share my work more widely. Now I've had three poetry books published.

Why I write

I was transferred to an office job, and after nearly 15 years of working in an office environment, it suddenly dawned on me that I was tired of people complaining about trivialities.

I was too polite to tell them what I thought, so I wrote my first poem, 'Why Worry', to do the talking for me. 

The main aim of my writing (or should I say typing – Parkinson's has made my writing illegible!) has been to give hope to anyone newly diagnosed with the terrible burden of Parkinson's.

I am proof that there is a future by the fact that I was still working full time 16 years after diagnosis.

Kim Lewis

My name is Kim Lewis and I have a love for and fascination with words. I was diagnosed with Parkinson's aged 53 in 2011. Two years later I was made redundant, so with some of my redundancy money I bought a laptop.

I joined a creative writing group, a poetry group and a Parkinson's support group which had just started up locally. I have found new confidence through this group activity.

Why I write

Writing is how I fight the condition, by keeping busy and escaping into my writing.

I have found new confidence through successes with writing and other people’s appreciation.

With my new confidence, I read my poetry at last year's Folkfest, though it was daunting at first.

If someone wants to write but never has, I strongly advise having a go! I also recommend joining a group or attending a workshop. Who knows what ideas are waiting to be unlocked!

Barbara Lewis

I am retired from my job as a medical secretary in an X-ray department and have always enjoyed writing letters. Now I’m more prolific in writing poems that cover many aspects of my life – family, holidays, feelings and of course Parkinson's, which was diagnosed in 2010.

I recently carried out some research for Parkinson's UK – looking for social groups in my local area that would welcome people with Parkinson’s without the need for assessment. I also enjoy painting, listening to traditional jazz, gardening, travelling and volunteering.

Why I write

I don't know why everyone else writes but I know why I do. Part of my reason may ring a few bells with some of you.

When you're fighting a losing battle it is a natural reaction to do something that you are good at – enjoy the euphoric feeling of accomplishing and being in control of that at least.

I write letters, articles and poems. The latter can be quite a challenge, so it is a good brain exercise which I need.

Writing gets rid of any unpleasant thoughts I may have and it is quite satisfying to compose a poem about Parkinson's which illustrates my feelings on the subject at the time.

Nicola Wood

I'm Nicola Wood and I was diagnosed in 2012. I've been writing since the age of eight, and try to do something every day even when things are difficult.

I've written a book of poetry inspired by astrology because both subjects make me feel like I'm so much more than just a body or a series of symptoms. I feel that being creative is a soul based spiritual experience – something Parkinson's can't touch. Showing I've still got a sense of humour and a point of view is important to me too.

Why I write

I've always been a writer, but I do think Parkinson's can enhance or even kickstart this side of us.

I've found that being creative helps me deal with the emotional and mental aspects of Parkinson's - things like depression, anxiety, frustration and anger.

It's very therapeutic and healing when I'm having one of those 'why me?' days. It helps to calm things down a bit and prevents me taking it out on the people nearest who may not understand or be able to cope.

It takes the pressure away from you and those around you and channels it into something expressive and productive, something you and others can be rightly proud of.

Jane Scargill

I have written poetry, prose and, less frequently, drama on and off since my teens.

I have a close relative with Parkinson's. I have a history of anxiety and some depression, and have worked in mental health user involvement and disability equality in recent years.

Philip Gibbs

I am Philip B Gibbs and I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2005, in my sixties. On thinking back, I probably started to show signs when I was 40 – loss of taste and smell. So my diagnosis took rather a long time!

I am learning to live with it, because it is not going to go away. Every day is different, so there is no time to lose.

Why I write

Most people hope for a cure, and so do I, but I would rather there were improvements in early diagnosis and more general understanding by the whole community, so that there is an end to the terrible fear which most newly diagnosed people seem to be left with.

I believe the fear would be eliminated by better understanding – and this is where you come in.

Write your poetry or your blockbuster and proudly tell the world that you have Parkinson's. Write and tell the world.

Use this toolkit to help you gain the strength to make the first move – which is to get a clean sheet of paper and a pencil or pen, and write those first 4 lines. You are now underway!

The subject doesn't matter – the writer and their feelings, put on paper, do.

Terry Rummins

Before a worsening Parkinson's forced me to retire, I had worked as a psychology lecturer, an educational psychologist and a counselling psychologist. I was diagnosed in 2002.

One of the first Parkinson's books I read after diagnosis was Lucky Man by Michael J Fox. He expressed an upbeat attitude to the condition. This suggested to me that given good health and a positive outlook, one's personality could affect the progress of one’s Parkinson's. I was determined that this should be the case for me.

Why I write

The diagnosis had shocked me and I wanted to make something positive from such a negative situation – so I started writing my books.

I developed a new understanding of myself and found that this became crucial in helping me deal with the daily challenges of Parkinson's.