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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