Tag Archives: reading

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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Every champion needs help

Champion: Top of Stok Kangri, India. Photo by Kev Howlett

We all want to be a champion in our writing life. We want to be able to articulate the ideas and thoughts in our head and share that with a reader. But any great champion needs support and guidance to get to where they want to go.

Writing is an especially lonesome activity. Unlike something like training for a marathon, where you can measure your progress through your fitness or physical prowess, the only way to know if you are improving or even on the right track, is to get feedback on your work. For many writers, this can be daunting. Some writers even think they don’t need it because their writing is going to evolve into a bestseller. Yes, it’s true.

What kind of help might a writer look for?

Seek Feedback

If you’ve written a novel and no one except you has read it, how do you know if it’s any good? The first step is to have someone read it. This may be paralysing for some but if you really want your work out in the world, many people will read it eventually. You want it to be the best it can be. Feedback at this stage is critical.

Join a Writing Group

One reader’s opinion is great but not well rounded because writing, like any art form is subjective. Being in a writing group with several other writers who can give you valuable, critical feedback is priceless. Some of your group won’t like or get your writing, others will but the aim in this situation is to be able to tell each other what does or doesn’t work and how it might be improved.

Not only will you grow as a writer, you will also learn what a reader looks for in a story. You will also learn how to articulate what does and doesn’t work in a story, which can be translated in your own writing. Hanging out with likeminded people also makes the writing journey much less lonely.

Find a Mentor

You can travel the writing journey on your own but this means that you will make many mistakes that may set you back time and time again. These mistakes may even mean that you never reach your destination.

Every champion has a coach or mentor. Mentors provide guidance, training, inspiration and motivation. Your mentor has walked the journey that you want to follow (if you’ve found the right one), which means they have many lessons to share with you.

What do you need from your guide? You need them to be honest with you about your work and the direction you want to go. You need practical advice on ways to improve your work, how to get into the writing industry and how to keep going when you are ready to give up. This person will teach you, from their own experience, the things you need to know that will fast track you to your destination.

Is there someone you know who can fulfil any of these roles above, someone who will help you get to where you want to go so that you can be a champion? They could be friends, colleagues, someone at the library, a writer’s centre. When you start looking, the right person will show up. If you think our Creative Fellowship might help, check it out here.

Blaise the book chick

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