Trade Secrets: Mindfulness and Creative Writing

Mindfulness is a buzz word we’ve been hearing a lot lately. What does that mean as creative writers? Can we take a mindful approach to what and how we write? Why might this matter?

In late January, we held our Trade Secrets session on Mindfulness and Creative Writing

The workshop was run by positive psychology expert, Vanessa King, with writer and creative writing teacher Elise Valmorbida. This dynamic duo ran a wildly successful workshop on Wellbeing and Creative Writing at this year’s Margate Bookie.

You probably know Elise (cos she’s a 26er), but Vanessa may be new to you. She is one of the UK’s leading experts in the psychology of happiness and resilience, and one of a small group globally to have completed an Applied Positive Psychology Masters with the founder of the field, Dr Martin Seligman at the University of Pennsylvania.

Vanessa has been at the heart of the social movement Action for Happiness since it was founded. She is the architect of the 10 Keys for Happier Living, which have engaged and inspired people around the world. She’s delivered TEDx talks and Guardian Masterclasses. She has been featured and quoted in all the best media, including a regular column in Psychologies magazine. Her first book 10 Keys to Happier Living was published by Headline in 2016. Her book for children, 50 Ways to Feel Happy, is out next year.

This session covered how to:

  • engage your senses
  • calm, focus and free the mind
  • connect experience with words
  • access deeper levels of creativity
  • write with authenticity



The Mindfulness and Creative Writing workshop was the perfect way to start the new year and put my resolutions to work. A huge thanks to Vanessa and Elise for introducing us to new ways of thinking and writing. Sarah Farley

This was a great introductory session – relaxed (very relaxed in fact) but thought-inducing. Mindfulness and imaginative writing are natural partners. You won round a sceptic! Wendy Jones

When I signed up for the Mindfulness and Creative Writing workshop in January, I knew quite a lot about mindfulness and quite a lot about writing, but hadn’t given much thought about how the two might intersect. Vanessa and Elise used a mix of discussion and practical exercises to remind us how vital it is for a writer to remain sensitive to the present moment in all its unexpectedness and variety. It was the perfect start to my writing year. Jill Hopper

A big thanks to both you and Vanessa. I thought it was a really stimulating session. I loved the combination of mindfulness practice and writing practice, which was a winning idea. I’d done those writing exercises before, but not in the context of being put into a mindful state, and I found a far greater sense of release as a result. Martin Lee

Latest 26 images

Disused pub in Hoxton by Andy York
Photo by Lucy Beevor
Image by Tony Linkson
Found on the island of Giglio, Italy by Chris Bird.
26 Screenshot by Lara Muth
I live at number 26, and this is my bin!  Rebecca Thomas
Captured in Venice by Elen Lewis
Distance markers on a disused railway in East Sussex. The Cuckoo Line.  By Tony Linkson
Distance markers on a disused railway in East Sussex. The Cuckoo Line.  By Tony Linkson
Distance markers on a disused railway in East Sussex. The Cuckoo Line.  By Tony Linkson
Spotted by Marin Lee at the Serpentine in Hyde Park
Spotted in Copenhagen by Helen MacKinven.
Spotted on the airfield of Tivat airport in Montenegro by Martin Lee
I took this picture in a fabulous vegan and raw food restaurant in Turin - Ezri Carlebach
Spotted in Capri by Laura Hunter
Woods near Jouqueviel, Midi-Pyrenees, 10 minutes after I had told my walking group about 26. They gave me a funny look. By David Mathews
Image by Ed Pritchard
Image by Lydia Thornley in Krakow
Spotted in Belfast by Jonathan Holt
From Christmas travels in Krakow by Lydia Thornley
Night time lamp from Christmas travels in Krakow by  Lydia Thornley
Daytime lamp from Christmas travels in Krakow by  Lydia Thornley