Fern

Processing Climate Emotions

Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.

James Baldwin

We get it: this can be hard. Can’t we just write about something fun?!


The truth is: sometimes you have to let your heart break in order to tell these stories. We know, no one wants their heart to break! It’s so much easier to bury climate grief and anger and anxiety. But that is one reason the climate crisis is still so invisible in our industry and on our screens.

There is another way. We can use our own grief as an opening to great stories. And by telling these stories, we can share our grief and not hold it alone.

PROMPT

Which films, shows, or novels bring you comfort during times of uncertainty? Make a list of the reasons why.

The climate crisis requires that we become comfortable with not knowing what happens next, with sitting in the anxiety of uncertainty without shutting down. Writers are inherently pros at this—always looking at a blank page, hanging out in that space between the imagined and the real, not knowing what direction a story might take but knowing that getting comfy with the uncertainty will beget all sorts of new ideas. More than other professions, writers know what it’s like to thrive in not knowing, because we so often don’t know what’s going to happen with our stories—or, for that matter, our careers. In this way, writers can be a guiding light. We can infuse our stories with a vast empathy for this era of uncertainty.

PROMPT

Where in your body do you feel the climate crisis? Where does it live? In your shoulders? Your gut? What if you sat with it for a minute?

Literally just a minute—you can set a timer on your phone.

Now close your eyes and put your attention on that body part. What do you think it’s connected to? A sense of loss? Frustration? Grief?

What fears do you have? Are you afraid for your kids? Your parents? The birds that no longer land in your neighborhood park?

Being able to tap into this, in whatever way you’re comfortable with, might get you closer to the story you want to tell.

NOTE: This exercise is not for working with acute or chronic trauma, rather the complex trauma of the climate crisis.

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