Poetry Prompts: Writing for Wellbeing

By Sophie Hall, 1st Year Creative Writing NTU Student

When I came across this blog, I was thrilled to see an honest discussion of mental health and wellbeing in students. Especially considering the impact of the pandemic leaving many students feeling isolated from each other and the university community. Knowing first hand how hard I found living in a new city before lockdown I can’t begin to imagine how new students manage to settle in now.

But enough with the sympathy. I have an idea and a dissertation to procrastinate.

When I came across this blog, I read so many honest articles about personal experiences with mental health that I wondered what I could contribute that would be new. After hours of staring at the ceiling with no thoughts at all – I wish I was exaggerating. I realized that the concept had been staring me in the face all along. A free form of expression that could become a form of self-care and creativity.


As a creative writing student and human being, I have always written down my thoughts when they become overwhelming or difficult to process. I thought I could create a community or just me talking into the void an extension of this blog where I share writing prompts to urge readers to start their own writing journey. Give yourself an opportunity to reflect and process anything and everything whether or not you’re allowed outside for more than one hour of exercise a day.

This Week’s Prompt:

Bare with me. This prompt came out of a conversation with a friend where he asked me during a writing session – “What do you think about when you think of love?”. After some eye-rolling he said for him, he thinks about food as he and his ex-girlfriend were self-proclaimed foodies and what brought them together was a love of food, cooking and going out to eat.

“What do you think about?”


This isn’t a joke. I think about cockroaches. I raise a colony of cockroaches with my boyfriend we brought them together, fed them old vegetables and set them up an enclosure of soil and empty egg boxes. We keep the room a little too warm so they can happily crawl about in their enclosure we even make sure to maintain the right ratio of females to males (3:1) so they can breed, and the males don’t bite each other’s wings off to assert dominance.

I am not saying anything.

This is the first ‘pet’ I have kept where I don’t expect love or interaction in return. I look after the colony, keep them alive and spoilt to a standard much higher than the average street cockroach. While knowing that its one-sided. They don’t have any awareness of me at all and worse if I stopped feeding them they’d eat their own children. In fact, they are such a contorted symbol of love that we have to feed my beloved colony one by one to my boyfriend’s three tarantula’s every few weeks. I am not part of the selection process. I have grown so attached to these insects that when ‘big boy’ our first and then only adult male cockroach died of old age I was sad for days on end. However, saying this my attached image for this blog is not my roaches but instead my beloved Labrador in hopes that avoiding a picture of cockroaches crawling over old egg boxes will not deter people from reading my writing will.

The question from a friend turned into a poem a few weeks later when he pointed out how weird my answer to it was. I thought of how animals symbolise lots of relationships and forms of love in my life, my younger siblings hunting for ladybirds in the garden and memories of removing spiders from the house as a child so my mother could sleep at night. As mushy as the prompt – ‘What do you think of when you think of love?’, I think it could be a great opener for some free writing. If it is too soppy for you why not replace ‘love’ with another emotion such as fear. When I think of fear I think of squids. I am yet to see one in the wild, but they terrify me non the less.

I hope this helps you to get writing!

Sophie will be doing a monthly writing for wellbeing prompt for our Healthy NTU blog, so if you enjoyed this blog and would like to give it a go check back next month for the next writing prompt.

Here at NTU we have a reading, writing and pleasure programme called WRAP. They run regular writing workshops, book groups and much more. Head over to www.ntu.ac.uk/wrap to find out more.

For help, advice and resources whilst studying at NTU, take a look at the following for sources of support.

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