If you wrote a letter to yourself, what would it say? How would you start? How would you express yourself? How truthful would you be?
Letters are so old world now, but most of us write to friends and family every day via text messages and social media. We share what’s going on for us, we ask for news, we embarrass our kids. If we were writing to ourselves instead of our friends, what would we say? Would we be more honest than we are in our regular, everyday communications with others? Would we be more careful of our language to ourselves, or would we let fly?
Life Writing is a way of communicating with ourselves, and in a way it’s like writing ourselves letters, telling it like it is, or telling it how we’d like it remembered. When we journal, we make choices about what we want to say and how we want to say it.
Life Writing can involve one or more of the following:
Some of us will swear like a sailor, and others will always keep it clean. I tend to mix it up.
Memories are so subjective. We might record what we recall and then another day change details as we remember the facts more clearly. I’ve often remembered an event more clearly after writing it out in great detail in my journal.
Life Writing can be like talking to a trusted friend who always allows you to alter the narrative. Wait, no, it didn’t happen like that. It was more like this.
If you have never written in a journal, or if it’s been a very long time since you did, you might be looking asking yourself some questions like these:
Do I have to write every day? No, not if that’s not for you. At the beginning, I wrote in my journal once or twice a week. That was enough for me back then. Now, I write most days, and if I don’t write I sometimes doodle in my journal or stick ephemera, like museum tickets, in the pages.
Do I have to write in a paper journal? No. Write in whatever way gets you writing and keeps you writing. If for you that means a laptop, go for it. I do suggest that if you choose a computer you either a) open a new folder in your computer and create one file each day, week or month to journal in, then store it online so you can access it anytime, or b) Create a blog and designate it secret, with a password so you are the only person who has access to it. I suppose I could add c) write an open blog for your journal.
I like to be able to write absolutely anything about absolutely anyone and everything, so putting my Life Writing out there, online, doesn’t suit my style. Remember, once it’s online, it’s out there forever. You might hate your sibling today, but do you really want that out there?
Should I hide my journal? I did, for many years. Then I realised that nobody was interested in my Life Writing except me.
It depends how prolific you are, too. If you go through a journal a month, you might like to invest in a filing cabinet to store them. I now keep mine in plastic boxes.
If you have any questions for me, leave a comment or go to my Facebook page. I’m writing a book called Life Writing for Women where I’ll teach you how to access and unleash your inner Life Writer, and I’ll share some of my own stories.
Write your life, know yourself.
I have three days left to get fit and lose 20 kilos, finish writing my book, turn my home into an austere, minimal sanctuary of peace and joy, spend more time with my friends, learn a new language, and spend less money on unnecessary stuff. It’s not looking good. I’m thinking I need more achievable goals for 2019.
Next year, I’m determined to simply be adequate; no more of the demands on myself that are just plain over the top. Around the house, I’ll never leave dirty dishes in the sink without running a bit of water over them. For myself, I’ll chuck out anything that doesn’t bring me joy, like all my holey knickers. When I find myself staring into space I’ll call it meditation and give myself a pat on the back. I’ll buy more wine, which will guarantee that my friends spend more time at my place. I’ll remember birthdays on Facebook, thanks to Facebook notifications. I’ll find more game apps on my iPad, so I can stimulate my brain and get the feeling of being promoted through competition.
Okay, so I’m being sarcastic. I just want a year off from all of the lies I tell myself in January that I then use to beat myself up with all year. What would it be like to have 12 months off from resolutions and shame? A whole 52 weeks of just living as I will. I’m only thinking of this as I type the words and I reckon I’m going to give it a go. 2019; the year of living shamelessly.
What will it be like for me to embark on this 365 days of freestyle living? I have a friend who has never been on a diet in her life. She’s not skinny, and she’s not obese, and she has refused to look into diets and dieting her whole life. I’m amazed at this and ever since she told me, I’ve wondered how I can apply this kind of attitude to my own life. A year of living without shame sounds like a perfect way to embrace it. Would this have occurred to me if I hadn’t been writing out my thoughts? Maybe not.
Write your life, know yourself. Rachel
When I was a little girl, Christmas tree day was very exciting. Dad would bring home a live tree, bought from a service station or a fruit shop and there were six of us kids waiting. He always talked about how he chose the tree, how it was the best one, with the straightest branches reaching upwards and it was just the right height so it reached the ceiling once it was put in the bucket with bricks to stabilize it. We had to water it regularly to keep it green. It made our whole house smell like Christmas. From the day it came into the house, we could smell Christmas every moment. It makes me smile to remember it. When I’m at the shops in December, if I see live trees for sale, I can’t resist smelling them. It puts a smile on my face and brings back all the memories.
When I got married, my husband and I bought a nice big plastic tree and ornaments to decorate it. Each year I bought a few things to add to the tree and to decorate our home. My boxes marked Christmas grew every year. When my sons were born and grew old enough to do Christmas crafts, we added those to the tree and to the house. The boys went to preschool and then school and brought home even more treasures to decorate our lives in December. As they moved up to high school, they no longer did Christmas crafts, and so I’d take them shopping to choose pretty baubles and new tinsel. My Christmas boxes took up a whole cupboard.
As my sons grew up, and I divorced, I moved into smaller homes with less room for big Christmas decorations. I am the kind of person who likes to downsize Christmas once I no longer have babies in the house, anyway. Our big old Christmas tree was no longer what I wanted, so I went shopping for a smaller tree. The first one I bought was about three feet tall, and it was able to wear some of my decorations. I bought a smaller string of lights and some tinsel to fit. That tree lasted a few years and more recently I bought a very small tree, about two feet, sixty centimeters tall. It has inbuilt flashing lights and all I add are a few pretty blue baubles. It’s sweet, it fits on a table in the corner of my lounge room, and there is plenty of room for gifts around it.
One day, if I’m lucky, there will be babies and small children around my tree again. I wonder if I’ll go shopping for a bigger tree? Maybe I’ll buy a cut tree, so that the fresh scent of Christmas pine will fill the senses of my children and their children, becoming a part of their Christmas memories, just as it is a part of mine.
Write your life, know yourself. Rachel
Freestyle Life Writing is one brilliant way to pour out honest, heart-felt truth. It’s not the only way, but I’ll blog about that another time. As a professional copywriter and ghost writer, I’ve written for other people for a long time. I’ve written in the style and the voice of other people, putting down words that best suited their lifestyles and businesses.
I love helping people with words, it’s my passion. I know the power that well chosen words can give a business and I know that in our personal lives, words expressed freely in a journal can release us from fear, anger, frustration, wrong thinking, and unrelenting bad memories.
I believe there’s a kind of magic that happens when we sit in front of our Life Writing, free from the kind of rules we’d apply if we were a professional writer. Ignoring spelling, neat writing, grammar, profanity and tidiness, and freeing yourself from any of the rules of writing, you can pour yourself out, release yourself to simply write what you’re thinking, feeling, remembering, celebrating, regretting, loving, hating and confused by.
Freestyle writing means letting go of your hangups about writing. It was hard for me at first; really, really hard. I kept wanting to go back over my words and edit the errors, cross out the bad grammar and rewrite the sloppy writing. After I’d been writing freestyle for a while, and I was able to look back on my Life Writing, I saw just how liberating it was. It was like I was tapping into a primal part of myself that held the truth and the facts most sacred to me. This primitive part of me loved the freedom to be utterly honest. It was a little scary at first, I admit, but it turned out that one of my most authentic ways of Life Writing came from this place of unrestrained, defiant, liberated, grounded self.
As I write my book Life Writing for Women, I’m including some excerpts from my own Life Writing, showing just how raw some of it was, and still is. The tough memories and the worst things that happen are owed a piercingly honest voice. Of course, this takes courage, the courage to let it all out, and sometimes it takes stamina to stick with the Life Writing until we break through the fear of discovery or the fear that we are full of crap. We don’t always trust ourselves, our own feelings and thoughts, am I being authentic? Surely I’m being overly dramatic? You know what? Overly dramatic is exactly what Life Writing is all about. In the same way that talking to your best friends brings out the real story, warts and all, our journal can be a place we go there as well. But our journal is never going to unintentionally change the subject without realising it’s closing us down like a friend might, it’s never going to have to go take care of its own family, it won’t offer advice when we only want to vent. It’s our life, it’s our Life Writing, it’s all for us.
Don’t get me wrong, my friends and family are great listeners, and we all lean on one another when we need a shoulder. I give and take advice, sometimes I’m a great listener and sometimes I feel like I know exactly what to say to comfort or at least help the ones I love. I’m just saying that our journal is pure in its ability to be there one hundred percent.
So, the benefits of Freestyle Life Writing are: It liberates us to say exactly what we think and feel. It keeps us on track. It gives us a very clear and honest account of life. It can help us with self-acceptance. It doesn’t judge.
If you’ve never tried it, I recommend you give it a go. Find a place where you won’t be interrupted, take out your journal and pen and write exactly what you are thinking and feeling in that moment. Say yes to whatever your hand wants to write. Don’t stop until you have finished expressing yourself. Then, be kind to yourself about whatever you wrote.
Write your life, know yourself. Rachel
Thanks for visiting my blog.
Write your life, know yourself.
Communication is one of the most important things to get right in a relationship. Any couple who have been for counselling will have been told to work on their communication. I believe that Life Writing is a kind of self-communication and it can improve your life by making you more aware of your choices, preferences, what you embrace and what you avoid. Whether you’re writing in your daily journal or writing your memoir, you will learn about yourself; how you see things, how you do things.
Writing the story of your first childhood best friend can be a simple recounting of the intersecting of two lives, but it can also be an enormous opportunity to look back over your life and see how that first best friendship impacted on every friendship that followed. Writing about how your family celebrated birthdays can be a real eye-opener. What did your mum do? What part did your dad play? Who made the cake? What new traditions have you added to your birthday celebrations? We all keep what we love and let go of what’s no longer meaningful for us. Writing about things shines a light on the past, makes us more aware of how we are living in the present, and can make us hopeful for the future.
There are a lot of different ways to write about life. I’ll be exploring as many of them as I can, here in my blog, in the coming weeks. I’ll be offering a Life Writing question at the end of every blog post, for you to use. I’d love to read your answer to the question I share, and hear about your writing style. The best way to share with me is on my Facebook Page, here is a link.
The Life Writing question today is: If you could have a conversation with your great-great-grandmother, what would you tell her about yourself and your life? What would you ask her? Try to write as much as you can.
Happy Life Writing,