Tag Archives: journal writing

Write for Your Life Part 1: Tap into Your Emotions

Rusty old tap, photo by Blaise van Hecke

There are many reasons why you might write about your life. You may have had an adventurous journey that people will be interested in reading about, or you have overcome trauma and come out of it stronger and happier than ever with a lot of great experience to pass on to someone else? It might just be a bucket list item or you want to leave a legacy for your children. Whatever the reason, you’ll find this expedition rewarding in so many ways.

The most common hurdles that I come across when working with people writing their story are not knowing where to start and thinking they don’t know how to write. Like anything, when you break it down it becomes less of a daunting task. These are some of the major aspects to  writing your story that will help you put it together:

  1. Emotions
  2. Turning Points
  3. The Big Picture
  4. Themes
  5. Storytelling
  6. The Senses

Over the next six blogs, I’ll be exploring these aspects of writing your story.

How do you overcome self-doubt and write something that is compelling? If you present a story that is a long list of events and dates it can be boring to read. So what does emotion have to do with it?

By tapping into your emotions, you will draw deeper into your story. I call this writing from the heart. This takes courage. For some writers, they are not ready to ‘go there’ yet. The event they’re writing about may be too recent and will present them with too-raw emotions. Even events from far back in your past can bring up emotions that you haven’t dealt with properly or you may not realise there are emotions attached to them.

How do you tap into these emotions? Write it out!

There are a number of writing exercises that you can try but one that I use often with workshop participants is this: Write a letter of gratitude.

Pick someone from your life (past, present, dead or alive) who has had an impact in your life. This influence can be positive or negative. This is one of those exercises that can go anywhere depending on the choice you make. The idea is to thank this person for what they brought to your life. How hard are you going to open that tap? The more water you let out, the more emotions will flow. If emotions don’t come, think about what you’re writing about or the person you’ve chosen. Are you playing it safe?

Once you’ve made your choice, sit with it for a minute or so and think about this person from all angles. Write a few specific words. How does this person make you feel? Angry, sad, nostalgic, frustrated, happy? Don’t over think this because it should be as free flowing as possible. Remember the tap, the free-flowing water. Writing will be like this if you don’t overthink it.

Now set your watch to ten minutes and write your letter.

When the timer goes off you may still have more to write. That’s okay. This is an exercise to get you going. You may or may not use this in your story but with practice, you will learn how to turn on the water bravely. It takes courage to open yourself fully and write authentically. You need to do this if you want to connect with your reader. Don’t be an old, rusty tap.

Try this exercise a few times, thanking a different person. Why not write one to yourself?

If you’d like to attend one of my Life Writing workshops, follow this link.

Blaise the book chick

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The Chilli Effect

The Chilli Effect – photo by Blaise van Hecke

Do you like to eat chilli? Would you munch on one raw? Probably not unless you’re one of those people on a food challenge show on YouTube. Why do you think they would do it? Usually there is a reward for it, like winning the challenge, getting media exposure or winning money.

We will get outside our comfort zone if the reward is there. If not, we’ll remain as most humans are: lazy. What is it YOU want for 2018? What are you going to do to make it happen?

If there isn’t enough incentive for you to make something happen, it will be very hard to find the motivation to do it. I’ve lost count of how many people tell me in writing workshops that they feel unmotivated to sit down to their writing. This just tells me that they don’t want it enough. It comes down to the reason WHY you do it. Determine why and you’ll be able to have that to reach out for. It’s not easy writing a book or climbing a mountain, so your why needs to be big enough to keep you going when it gets tough.

I’ve told myself many times that I’m not a disciplined person. But getting something done actually doesn’t require discipline. It requires you to sit down and map a plan to get where you want to go. Sometimes you’ll get off track but don’t be hard on yourself. Get back on track and keep going. Keep giving yourself little pep talks and adjusting your plan to keep you moving forward.

Here are some of the things that I do to keep myself moving forward with my writing:

Set goals that are achievable.

I was writing my first novel for about 10 years and was still only around 20,000 words into it. I had plenty of reasons for the lack of time: running a business, two teenagers etc. Then I asked Les Zig to coach me. He told me to set aside 15 minutes every day. It’s easy to find 15 minutes. I got up half an hour earlier than usual (I’m NOT a morning person) and sat down to write. I managed to write the full novel in nine months by doing this.

It isn’t helpful to set goals that are too hard to achieve. Instead of 1000 words per day, aim for 250. If you go over it, you feel good and it’s better than no words at all.

Remind yourself why you’re doing this.

It takes a lot of hours to write a book. It may take time away from your favourite TV show, or Facebook or even your family. If you don’t know why you’re doing it, I promise you it won’t happen. My incentive was to just have written a novel. It was more of a bucket list item than anything.

Hang out with like-minded people.

When you tell someone that you’re writing a book, they might think that you’re all talk. Or they might wonder what you could possibly write about. It seems like a very indulgent pastime. When you find a tribe of people who do what you do, they’ll get it and will encourage and support you, as well as give you critical feedback on your work.

When the work gets hard, think about that chilli. Is the purpose big enough for you to keep pushing on? Take a nice big bite and reap the rewards.

Blaise, the book chick

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