Ok, so today was National Writing Day!
Did you know there was such a thing? I didn’t! (Face of shame)
I’m so glad this one is a ‘thing’ though ( rather than, say, National ‘Tidy your Cutlery Drawer Day’. That one wouldn’t happen in our house.)
I’ve not talked much on here about writing. But I’ve talked about stories, re-writing our own stories, (when the stories we or others tell about our lives are tying us down, disempowering us or holding us back).
That’s the fuel in my heart. That runs deep.
But if we are to tell our stories – new, powerful, healing stories, or just funny, quirky, unique stories – and these stories are to last, and be passed on (like torches into the night), then we’d better get comfortable writing them down. Nor let anyone discount us, or tell us that our story doesn’t have value or isn’t somehow important enough.
Because, yes! it absolutely IS! Your story is a chapter in life’s book. Without it, the book makes no sense.
Some years ago, when I was training as a therapist, I noticed that some people who came to counselling could only share the most difficult parts of their stories if they wrote them down first, and (when/if they were able) shared them with me. Many of them found this really helped them. So when I went on to do research, I explored the two big questions I had:
Why were they writing?
And how was it helping them?
I didn’t know what would happen when I began, but pursuing those questions kind of took over my life!
I left work in the end to chase down the answers. I completed my research.
I was fortunate enough to be able to share my findings at a national counselling and psychotherapy research conference. I shared them through many workshops. And after much editorial blood, sweat, tears and ink, I published them too.
It was a long hard but rewarding road.
And this (in short) is what my research participants taught me…. precious lessons for you and me too.
*Writing helped them to ‘offload’, to get painful and difficult thoughts and feelings out of themselves, onto the paper.
*It gave those thoughts and feelings ‘physicality’, so that they could be explored, processed and understood.
*It revealed parts of themselves that had never felt safe to ‘show up’ before.
*The writing became a place where they could ‘capture’ what they were learning and integrate it.
*It became a place where they could ‘re-story’ their lives and find themselves and their unique voices.
Writing worked because on the page they had control. They had a private space (a ‘room of one’s own’ almost). They had choice (what to write, if to write and if and what to share). They gained confidence.
They were able to find their voice (in private) before they tried it out in public and often they discovered identity and purpose too through their writing.
Treasure beyond price indeed!
So why am I sharing this on allthingsquiet?
Well, not just because today is ‘National Writing Day’, but because part of the original motivation behind this blog for me was to explore ways to help us, as quiet people, to ‘find our voice’.
Writing is the ideal introvert platform. To experiment, to craft, to explore…. to ‘re-story’.
It’s a prime weapon in our arsenal. A secret tool in self-discovery. A confidential friend along life’s highway.
So, have a go today, try some writing. Pick up your pen. Set up your laptop, and here, for good measure, are some good, accessible places to start:
‘Expressive Writing’ James Pennebaker
‘The Right to Write’ Julia Cameron
‘Journal to the Self’ Kathleen Adams
Maya Angelou wrote that writing ‘puts starch in your backbone, so you can stand, so you can compose your life’
So, go forth and compose! And if you’ve time, aside from all the writing, let me know how you’re getting on too…
Blessings, til next time..
And if you’re interested in the research, here’s the link: