Tag Archives: journal writing

Mining for Precious Metals

Cartoon by Kev Howlett

There are many similarities between your life and mine. We are born, we go to school, we get jobs, maybe get married, have kids and so on. But each of us has our own experience within those similarities. And not everyone gets married or has kids. Or they may get married, then widowed or not be able to have children or choose not to have children.

So how does a writer tell their life story without boring the pants off the reader? Do I want to hear about your life if it’s been similar to mine? Maybe yes, to a degree, because we all like to connect with someone with a shared experience. But I don’t want to read a blow-by-blow description of your life from the day you were born to now.

Think about your life, or the part of your life you’d like to share with the reader. Are there aspects of it that stand out and have a common theme? You may not discover this until you have started writing. That’s okay. Writing a first draft isn’t going to produce the gold that will come when you rewrite.

Have you noticed the metaphor here? I’m comparing writing to mining. The use of metaphor can make your writing more vivid. At first, when getting out your first draft, you’ll feel like it’s very rough and maybe not even worth pursuing. But don’t give up. There will be a diamond in there waiting to be polished up. Have you heard the story of the miner who gave up digging for diamonds, not realising that a fortune could have been had if only he had chipped away at another few metres of rock?

We dream in metaphor. Often when we wake we try to decipher the strange messages that our unconscious mind has been trying to give us. It stands to reason that the use of metaphor in writing appeals to the unconscious mind.

Relating your life to metaphor will help you create links and images that will appeal to the reader. Has your life been like a box of chocolates? Has it been crisis after crisis, ending as one big train wreck? Or maybe, despite many hardships, you feel blessed with everything that you have and it has been a fortunate life?

Here are examples of memoir/biography that have used metaphor to create a theme in their book:

Open by Andre Agassi
Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety by Daniel Smith
Reckoning: A Memoir by Magda Szubanski
Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement by Michael D’Orso and John Lewis

Finding that metaphor to describe your life could be the gem you need to create a compelling read.

Do You Need To Reboot?

imagesMany of my friends are writers or artists and many of them are introverts. I’ve often wondered if it is a prerequisite to be introverted in order to be creative, but I haven’t done enough study of this to know the answer.

Being an introvert can be tiring. While being social and hanging out with other people can actually fuel extroverts, it’s the opposite for introverts. Because introverts spend so much time in their head, being social and engaging in small talk can be overwhelming and they need time alone to recharge.

I don’t think that I’m a true introvert. I’m more of an ambivert – somewhere in the middle. I love people. I love talking to people, being around them, helping them. But there are days when I am so talked out that if someone asks me a question I can’t even begin to answer it. In the past I haven’t been good at reading my own body/mind to know that I need down time. This is when I end up getting sick and my body tells me that I need to stay in bed. Nowadays, I know when I need to recharge and I’ll take myself away from everyone and read or sit in the bath for hours. At these times noise is especially irritating. I won’t have TV or radio on and prefer not to talk to anyone.

Knowing this about your nature will go a long way to you being able to pace yourself in daily life. If you are a creative person, too much in your head, you’ll have trouble getting to sleep and trouble functioning in social situations. Other people will misread this as you being difficult, moody or socially inept.

So how do you recharge? This will be different for everybody and will depend on you being an introvert of an extrovert. Here are some suggestions:


  • Don’t get caught up in small talk
  • Have time alone
  • Catch up with small groups of close friends
  • Meditate


  • Go to a party
  • Catch up with people on the phone
  • Catch up with your group of friends
  • Participate in a group dance class

If you have writer’s block, or trouble working on a creative pursuit, it could be because you need to reboot. What’s the first thing you do when your computer is playing up? Turn it off, then on again. Sometimes you need to do that for yourself. If a good night’s sleep isn’t enough (or you can’t switch off for a good night’s sleep) then you need to find some other way to do it.

Blaise van Hecke