If you wrote a letter to yourself, what would it say? How would you start? What language would you use? 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 message, email 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 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, or b) In order to be able to access your journal online anytime, 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. When I hid mine, I locked it in a box and kept the key in my lingerie drawer. It depends on 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 them in plastic boxes with a note on top of them that they should be burned without reading when I die.
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.