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Tuheena Raj - Founder of WordsWorth , talks about how Writing can improve our Mental Health
Paying attention towards our mental health is as important as paying attention towards our physical health. While there are numerous recommendations suggested by researchers or psychologist for reducing stress, decreasing anxiety, and staying mentally fit. But very few individuals understand how writing or journaling can help us. Moreover, in a social media era which leaves less time for introspection, writing has many benefits. It can allow you to organize or channelize your thoughts and process emotions.
However, it can be daunting to find the motivation to write when you’re feeling low. Even if you enjoy the process of writing, a depressive incident can lower your inspiration.
It gets difficult to decide what one must write about while looking at a blank piece of parchment . Once you cross that bridge and pen has been put to paper, the words can start to flow and writing becomes gratifying.
About the Writer
She was born and raised in New Delhi and had a keen interest in poetry, stories and narratives. She holds a graduate degree in commerce from the Shri Ram College of Commerce, University of Delhi and Post Graduate Certificate in Digital Marketing & Communication from Mudra Institute of Communication Ahmedabad, (MICA).
Currently she is associated on a full time basis with Blue Tokai Coffee Roasters as a Brand Manager. And in the past, she has worked with major corporations like KPMG , Google , Citi Bank and Tata Trusts.
She has also been invited as a guest speaker and judge of poetry competitions at Tedx IGMCRI, IMT Ghaziabad, IIFT Delhi, Netaji Subhash Institute of Technology, Kirori Mal College (DU), College of Vocational Studies (DU), Daulat Ram College (DU), Institute of Home Economics (DU) ,Sardar Patel Vidyalaya, Platform for Artists and Indian Taleways.
After graduating from college, she wanted to become a banker, however a part of her also wanted to become a writer. She made use of the digital mediums available to her and started with her blog on Instagram as well as Facebook and an year or so later.
She is an avid reader and believe that art is the truest and most vital form of self expression and identity. She also believe in advocacy and activism particularly related to human rights and mental health and wellbeing.
I had a conversation with her, whose poetry account ‘WordsofWorth’ on Instagram inspires thousands of young minds every day that both conventional career and passion can grow together.
Excerpts from the Interview :-
Q1) What inspired you to start writing poetry on Instagram? Was there an eureka moment in your life when you realized you wanted to shift your focus towards the writing space?
Tuheena : When I was in my final year at SRCC, I was worried about sitting for college placements and letting other people decide my fate. I craved control to be able to chart out my own career path to some extent, which is when WordsofWorth was born. I wanted to give my passion project a fair chance and writing was always something I had gravitated towards. There is a cliched thing people say about how humans can be identified as two distinct types — those who understand the world by numbers and the ones who understand the world with stories. I’ve always belonged to the latter category and writing is a way for me to break down, understand and absorb the world.
Q2) How did you decide on the name “Words of Worth”? What was the story or thought behind it? ☺
Tuheena : I was honestly going for a wordplay on Wordsworth but spelt as it is, Words of Worth is literally what it means. My idea was to write and create a space that made a reader feel good. I’ve always put emphasis on making my writing relatable and easy to understand. I’ve thought about changing the name several times and using my own name below my poems but somehow, most people call me WordsofWorth now so I’ve never parted with the name. I like the ring it has! :)
Q3) There is so much more to writing than what a user sees on the pages or on social media handles. What is the mind-set of a writer, where does the creativity come from? What is your writing style? Tell us what your writing process is. Does the poem just appear, and you have to stop and note it down?
Tuheena : My writing style has changed over the years. I’ve been writing on the internet for several years now and while earlier there was a method to my madness, now, I let my emotions rule my creativity. Oftentimes, I try to take instances from my life and tie it to a broader theme that I think would be relatable for a lot of people. Other times, I’ve found specificity to be oddly, extremely relatable too. A gradual shift I’ve seen in my perspective is to dissociate with social media trends and rules. I write on the internet on my rules and don’t hop onto something I don’t believe in. Also, over the last few years, I’ve gravitated more towards reading non-fiction and so, my writing style reflects that too. That said, I absolutely love playing with imagery and weaving in metaphors so I hope to retain that distinctive voice of mine.
Q4) Do you have an essential philosophy that guides you in your creative expression?
Tuheena : That’s a very interesting question! I find the idea of transience being a continuum very fascinating and I think almost all good writers I admire, like Milan Kundera, have woven in the philosophy of the fact that all the things worth having are so ephemeral.
I also go with my gut feeling a lot when discerning what would work and what wouldn’t. I believe in the power of instincts and think they need to be paid more heed to in complex situations than the rational brain.
Q5) One of the things that your writings depict is — understanding grief & loss honestly and it perfectly juxtaposes that feeling of struggle in adulthood: where everyone goes through an existential crisis, suffer loss in the form of relationships failures, losing their parent, basically everything happening all at once, so to speak. Was this something you were able to relate to and found it easy to write about?
Tuheena : I think I am someone who enjoys the company of people and draws from their stories and experiences. The things I write about are either things I’ve experienced in some way or the other or seen a close one go through. Sometimes, I am reflecting and writing on things I have a reaction to, based on the world we live in. It works in all ways. Writing about grief is a therapeutic experience in itself and knowing that there are people who find my words helpful after a rough day is what keeps me going.
Q6) Do you have a favourite poem that you have written? If so, why?
Tuheena : I don’t think I’ve written my all time favourite poem yet but there are some pieces I’m proud of more than the others. Once you start writing on a frequent basis, the thing that excites you the most is the beauty of brevity. When you’re able to say a lot in very few words but still get the emotion across. All of my favorite works reflect this ideology of mine.
Q7) Who are the artists or writers that inspire you, and why?
Tuheena : Many people. Starting from Sadat Hasan Manto, Vikram Seth, Arundhati Roy to Jia Toelntion, Milan Kundera and Elif Shafak. I crave sequels of good books and draw from everyone — poets or non poets. I am particularly fascinated by the usage of metaphors and oxymorons and love the books and writers who make me want to steal from their work!
Q8) Who do you recommend when someone says they want to read more poetry?
Tuheena : Vikram Seth! Absolutely love his works.
Q9) You’ve talked about how the intimate nature of your poems inspires readers to share their own stories with you. What is it like to receive all that? Who’s your most surprising Instagram follower?
Tuheena : I find the beauty of worlds bringing together the world a great idea and everytime people share their writing with me, I am so excited to read through. There’s so much joy in reading the works of upcoming poets. My most surprising instagram followers are people who are above the age of sixty and find my writing relatable. I had an uncle in his seventies once tell me that he couldn’t make out from my writing that I was in my twenties and that he felt my writing was well ahead of my years. Made me feel great!
Q10) It’s so interesting to think of the way you work now, because someone like Sylvia Plath wasn’t interacting with her readers every minute. Do you ever want to take months away from the internet?
Tuheena : Yes! The internet is a strange place — equal parts beautiful and draining and with the pandemic, I find the need to preserve my sanity by disconnecting from the internet extremely important. I’d be lying if I said I want to write everyday. I’m sapped of energy and most importantly, I’ve been experiencing a strong mix of imposter syndrome and a feeling of finding my older art ‘not good enough’. It’s an occasional swing I’ve experienced previously as well. As I transition into being more of a reader and less of a writer, albeit temporarily, there seems to be so much more to learn and wrap my head around and the sheer lack of experiences and inability to meet people in person is resulting in a vortex, leaving behind a vacuum in my creative space. While I find the instant feedback mechanism of the internet a great tool for me to gauge what my readers would like to read more. I do think that the quick rate of consumption hampers the value people place on the art creators create on the internet.
Q11) Writers have it tough. It’s not just the endless rejection letters and the slim chances of making a living from their craft — it’s also their mental health. The literary world has lost many of its greats to suicide: Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf, and David Foster Wallace, to name a few. But are writers actually more prone to mental illness — or is this a myth fueled by memorable anecdotes?
What is your perspective? Is writing a creative medicine for the mind? What was the biggest struggle you faced on a personal level in your writing journey?
Tuheena : I’m not sure if there is a significant link to say that artists are more prone to mental health issues but I certainly do know that writers create from a very intimate space and share too much of themselves with each piece they put out into the universe. Rejections are often harder when the product is YOU. Moreover, writers are gifted with this extraordinary quality to be able to read and feel more than the average human being. In fact, a lot of writers have very high EQs. There is a high possibility that someone who tries everyday to make sense of this broken world to create art, gets to believing that there truly is no panacea for suffering.
Q12) One last question! What’s one piece of advice you would give to an aspiring writer? On a personal level, I was wondering when you reflect on your life as a writer have you learned any lessons about life, or obtained any particular perspective?
Tuheena : I think I am far from perfect, I am a constant work in progress and I want to tell every aspiring writer to take their time. To put work into their craft, to read and invest their time into good books, people and conversations because the world today is saturated with people with a voice. There is a lot more hard work needed to make yours unique.
Thank you all for reading and a big thanks to Tuheena Raj for collaborating in today’s post!
It’s a pleasure!
To all those who have read this I hope that this interview was able to casts its magic on you, that it inspired you to not give up on your passion or inner calling.
If any of my readers here , wish to know more about Tuheena or her writings. They can follow the links mentioned below :-
Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/wordsofworth/
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/wordsofworth7/