This post is for everyone who’d like to have a go at writing for their own interest and enjoyment but hasn’t known how to start. The following is a suggested way forward, take from it what you will. A little bit more about me and my book-writing at the bottom.
A method taken from Julia Cameron’s book “The Artist’s Way”, this is what got me started on using writing in my own life. Either first thing in the morning, or last thing at night, when you are able to have some private space and time to yourself (I know this isn’t always possible but try to if you can). All you need is some blank A4 paper and a pen. Make sure you are sitting comfortably, take a few moments to concentrate on your breathing, notice any feelings of tension and just allow yourself to relax and let go as you breathe. Once you feel ready to start writing, put pen to paper and just write whatever comes. Don’t stop to think if it is right or wrong, or to correct anything, just allow your pen to wander across the page. If you can’t think of anything to write, then just write “I don’t know what to write, I don’t know what to write” and keep repeating it until your own words slip onto the page. Keep going until you have filled three pages of A4 paper. This method gets you used to just writing without censoring anything, without thinking about whether it is being written in the right way or not. Try doing it once a day for a few days and continue if you wish. You may be surprised at what ends up on the page … the one thing there should not be is crossings out! Once you have mastered this, you are ready to go onto the next stage.
This is something that I learnt while attending a creative writing class. I now use this method regularly at our weekly writing group meetings. Set a timer for 5 minutes (I use a colourful triple egg-timer but you can set your phone alarm, stopwatch etc.) You can decide on a topic, anything of your choice. This morning my friend in Scotland asked me for a writing prompt and I ended up saying “Pancakes” because we had a conversation the other day about them and it just popped back into my head. So if you would like to use this same topic I would love to hear your stories if you would like to share them with me. You may start off thinking about Pancakes but end up in a totally different place … that doesn’t matter and is entirely what is so fascinating about the process. So … once you have your topic write it at the top of your page. Then just start the timer for 5 minutes and start writing. Don’t correct yourself, just write. It is a good idea to have tried writing “morning pages” a few times so you get used to writing without correcting yourself or worrying about grammar, spelling or punctuation. This is about bringing out stories from you, your life, memories, thoughts today, hopes for the future without being judged or criticised. To use writing to communicate with yourself and as a way of sharing your stories with others.
Start a journal
Find a scrapbook, photo album, large notebook or whatever you might have to hand, it may be an old diary or just plain A4 paper that you can keep in a file, and choose a time each day to write about your daily life. This can be very practical, just putting down the facts, or you can choose to go deeper and write about your internal thoughts and feelings. You can add sketches, stick in cut out pictures that you like, anything you feel like that says something about your day. You can decide to do this daily or whenever you feel like it so that there is no pressure, it is something to enjoy. Let it take you wherever you wish, you can talk about past memories, what is happening now or your dreams for the future. You can add complete pieces of writing such as that done as morning pages or timed writing. You can stick an envelope in the journal and use this as a pocket for this writing or you can extract quotes, writing these into your journal. Enjoy!
Life Happens, Live Happy … and start a blog!
However you are feeling in this moment, writing can take you on a personal journey that may surprise you. It has therapeutic benefits and is something you can do anywhere with very little resources. In 2015 I was seriously ill with leukaemia. Writing became my saviour, providing me with a focus during my treatment. This current situation that the world finds itself in has brought that time back to me and made me realise that, although I have continued to write and have been running Life Story Writing groups in the community, there is something about blogging that really helped me as there was no pressure. People could choose to read my posts if they wished and it was a really good feeling when I was able to connect with people across the world. Life takes over and my blogging has been sporadic. Eventually I wrote my book” Life Happens, Live Happy” which is the story behind this blog. I have reduced the price on Amazon to £0.99p for the Kindle version (it is free for those those who subscribe to Kindle Unlimited). I believe that there are things in it that may be of help to others during this time, especially to be inspired to start writing their own stories about life.
I am now writing a new book, “Writing back to Happiness”, this is a work-in-progress and a collaboration with my wonderful small writing group that I was meeting with each week until this situation unexpectedly happened. It will explain how I use an empowering life coaching approach to inspire people to write the little random stories about their life and to share them with others, with the many diverse conversations that arise from this.
Keep well, keep safe and I express my gratitude for everyone out there that is supporting the world in roles that are essential to our health and wellbeing at this surreal time. If you are struggling, and notice your mood dropping, it can help to focus on the little things that we are grateful for in our lives, listing these, writing them down, can help lift our mood when we may be struggling to cope with what life has thrown at us. Life Happens, Live Happy … and connect with others through writing and sharing your stories about the little things in life that bring you joy.