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Using the unique power of peer supports to enhance recovery and self-empowerment informs CAPS, a peer-run organization serving adults in New York’s capital region recovering from mental illnesses.

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This isn't me but this is what my writing anxiety sometimes looks like.I have to admit something. I often feel totally inadequate to do any writing for this website. There. I said it. What I mean is that whenever I sit down to write something I get freaked. Nervous. Sweaty. I feel I have no ability to write anything anyone will want to read. I worry about what people will think of what I write. I think I don't have anything worth saying. Even though I consider myself a good writer, I have spent a lifetime panicking whenever I have to start writing something. I used to say, when I was in college, that I would rather clean the toilet than start writing.

In fact, that's what I did a lot of the time. I'd clean the whole house. Then it was serene and calm which helped me feel more serene and calm. Then I'd make myself sit down and start blobbing words onto paper (or the computer screen).

I used to think I had to just write it all out perfectly the first try. My mother set me straight on that one. She said to just start with one word. Then, she claimed, the other words will come. And she showed me that I didn't have to be perfect the first time, that, in fact, it never had to be perfect, just good enough. In college it often took several drafts and rearrangements to get a good paper. I'm trying to follow her advice now since I've given myself the task of managing this website.

When I found myself teaching "writing intensive" classes at UAlbany during graduate school, I discovered another writinig secret. This secret relates to peer support. I had my students get together in small groups that I called editing groups at the time, for all their writing assignments. They helped each other refine their ideas, get started, get their ideas organized and to actually write. Then they'd edit each other's work and then write a draft. More editing group work. Another draft. Etc.  I have to say, they produced some pretty awesome papers. Far more awesome than most other papers I'd read. They discovered they were peers, not in the sense of sharing a diagnoses of mental illness, but that they were all in the same boat. Then they discovered that two brains are better than one (or three brains or more). They discovered they could have fun together while doing all this onerous writing stuff. I wish I'd had a writing group whenever I was struggling with papers.

Come to think of it, this website could use a writer's group…

writing group 01Hey, I think it's a great idea. Anyone associated with CAPS who is interested could meet at CAPS to work on writing stories for the website together. And if someone can't read or write but has ideas, others could help them by writing down their words and reading for them. I sure hope people are interested because it would be so much more fun for me (selfish reason).

Whew! I got through writing this. Now I'm looking forward to seeing if anyone else thinks it's a good idea.

If you are interested, email me (Anne Masters).

Category: Board Blog

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Capital Area Peer Services
354 Central Avenue
Albany, NY 12208-2311

P 518.427.5056
F 518.427.5059

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