Thursday, February 23, 2012

End of Road

This blog has served its purpose and come to the end of its road. See the About the Blog tab for more information. I'm leaving the posts accessible indefinitely and hope you may enjoy and benefit from digging around in the archives.

Please visit my primary blog, The Heart and Craft of Life Writing for continuing information on expressive writing, aka life writing.

You will find no comments on posts because they were moved to Blogspot from another platform, and unfortunately comments did not transfer. 

Photo Credit:  Jesse Wagstaff

Monday, November 14, 2011

Writing It Raw

You’ve probably never heard of raw writing. Neither had I until I coined the phrase. But I should have thought to head over to Google before taking credit for anything new. The results validate the wisdom of Solomon. Three millennia ago there was already “nothing new under the sun.”

I coined the phrase, seen on the site logo graphic in the right sidebar, to describe a catch-all category for any spontaneous writing, whether it's a journal entry, free-writing on scrap paper, Natalie Goldberg-style writing practice, Julia Cameron-style morning pages, pure rants or riffs,  or even quick unedited emails and notes that talk about your day or other experiences. Raw writing forms the roots of the Tree of Life Writing,  converting unprocessed memories into the basic components of more crafted writing forms of story, essay, memoir and more.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Dreaming the Answers

In some dreams, life makes sense. In others it comes apart. Each type of dream has power. Our challenge is to remember those dreams and harness that power.

I often remember dreams, and while most are mundane, some are utterly fascinating. More than twenty years ago I began taking a few minutes soon after waking to write down the most dramatic ones, and until the last few years, I stored them on my computer (now they are hand-written in my paper journal).

Yesterday I found several “dream” files I hadn’t looked at in years. These were all dreams in which I had some sort of breakthrough in understanding. In an especially vivid one, I surprised myself by explaining a bizarrely compelling concept of God to people who held to a belief I had come to consider outmoded. I knew in the dream that they would not understand what I was saying, but I felt better for having a clear and coherent explanation of my position that respected the fact that they still clung to the one I had reevaluated.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

One in a Million

A few days ago I picked this picture for a group writing prompt exercise. When I saw it, I immediately recalled a couple of hours I spent walking around that very beach on South Georgia Island ten years ago. I expected to write about the haunting din of penguin trumpeting, the smell of slimy guano, and the incredible sensation of being one of only a few dozen humans among a hundred thousand denizens of the Shanghai of penguindom.

Not surprisingly, when I looked more closely at the picture and began to write, a different story came out:

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Materials May Shape the Message

Materials we use to write may shape our results. My current journal has soft brown recycled paper pages, slightly crinkled and earthy feeling. My pen has the slightest bit of drag, creating a sense of connection with nature. Perhaps this earthy setting prompted an unusual recent experience.

My hand had stopped moving while my thoughts followed a tangent.  When I noticed this, I resumed writing, picking up in the  middle of my abandoned sentence. After writing a few words, I was visually transported into a forest, walking along a brown, fern-edged path shaded by leafy green boughs. The path stretched ahead only a couple of hundred feet before disappearing around a bend. I had no idea where it led.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Re-vision Your Life

If you aren’t happy with your life as it currently is, do a re-vision and trance-form it. Let your pen rip through the bonds of limiting beliefs, restor(y)ing the magical sense of possibility and wonder you had as a young child.

This idea derived from reviewing several podcasts, interviews and other material relevant to the topic of beliefs and transformation. Through this exercise, several things have become clear:

Sunday, August 28, 2011

When Writing Hurts

The primary focus of this blog is on writing for health, but sometimes writing can damage your body, if not your health. This is a lesson I’ve learned the painful way over the last several weeks, which has a lot to do with the lack of posts recently. Perhaps some of my insights in this matter can spare a few others similar pain.

Many times over the past ten years or so if I spent too much time over a period of days using my mouse intensively, for example becoming engrossed in marathon photo editing sessions, I’ve developed a condition I call “mouse shoulder.” The clinical diagnosis is probably an inflammation or strain of the rotator cuff. The best cure I found was to do something else for a few days to let my shoulder heal. Using a clipboard in my lap is a good preventive measure for mouse shoulder.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Beanie I Never Got

In a previous post, The Write Way to Change Your Brain, I explained how relationships with parents can affect the way we relate to the world at large. I see the truth of this in my own life. I grew up in a family that lacked language for describing any but the most basic emotions, and we didn’t talk much about even those. It’s not that I didn’t feel things — I just didn’t have words to describe, analyze, and discuss those feelings.

It’s hard to fully experience that which you can’t name, and it’s hard to be supportive of that which you aren’t apprised of. Both my parents grew up in similar circumstances. No wonder they were unable to teach me about feelings or be supportive in areas of relationships and emotions.

Writing stories and journaling has been a huge help in becoming aware of the various facets of this situation and how it developed. Some of the stories, such as the one below (written in 1998) are short, but powerful documentation:

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Digging Deep—Interview With Boyd Lemon, Pt. 2

In his recently published memoir, Digging Deep, Boyd Lemon plumbs the depths of his memory and soul as he seeks to understand what role he may have played in the failure of not one, but three successive marriages. The insights and answers he shares with readers may be helpful to readers of any age and marital status. This post is a continuation of an interview begun on my sister site, The Heart and Craft of Life Writing. In this post Boyd responds to questions about the writing process as it relates to his ex-wives and children.

SL: As I read the aptly named Digging Deep, I'm deeply curious how you handled things with your ex-wives regarding the disclosures in your book. Did you show them what you'd written before the book was published?

BL: I told each of them that I was writing it and intended to publish it. I received a response from only my third wife, who said she was not looking forward to it. I asked them each for input on several specific things related to their perception of specific incidents. My first and third wives both responded constructively. My second wife did not respond to either me or our adult children.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

When Writing Feels Stressful

After all the talk about the health benefits of writing, you  think of it as something much like taking your vitamins or blood pressure meds, but more time-consuming. “I guess I’d better sit down and write now,” you may think, although you have ninety other thing you’d rather be doing and nothing in mind to write about. “But it’s good for me,” you mentally sigh. “It will make me healthier.”

You pick up your pen or sit at the computer. Your stomach knots; your muscles clench. You stare at the blank page or monitor. This is not writer’s block. Perhaps you really are pulled in ninety directions at the moment, or maybe you are experiencing burnout.  You may have built up a huge pile of expectations and allowed writing to become a burden rather than a joy. It’s easy to begin to perceive anything as a burden when you “have” to do it. Burdens can become crushingly heavy and fill our lives with stress.