Writing and Loving Your Words

My book, The Chocolate Pilgrim, will be launched in the fall of 2017. My earliest memories are about wanting to write a book. Finally, at the age of 55, I decided it was time to make that dream a reality. Not that I had a book idea in mind, it’s more like I said “yes” to myself and my passion for writing. I signed up with Michele Gunderson in her Language of Yoga Mastermind. Within the coaching program I had many opportunities to write from prompts, to read aloud within a supportive circle, and receive feedback focused on what’s strong in the writing.

I learned a lot about my internal critics who tried to stop me from believing in myself. When I heard others in the group reflect back what was strong, pointing out words and phrases they loved, most often these were the words I thought were crap. In the coaching program we call the critical inner voices “the editor”.

The Importance of a Supportive Community

With the support of the Mastermind circle, I was able to continue writing and develop a deeper understanding of my internal editor. I personify her as a bitter old woman, hunched over, suspicious, smoking cigarettes and throwing out negative comments about everyone and everything around her. Knowing her this well helped me to continue until I amassed enough written pieces I could see how everything would fit together into a book.

Hello editor 3.0! It was one thing to love my words one time, with a single reading at a retreat. It was another to live with the same words for the long haul, filling in the outline of my story arc. There were so many ways the internal critics tried to take me down. The most profound was when I had completed the first draft of my creative memoir.  Even as I was writing the last words I could feel my editors circling in, viciously telling me that there wasn’t anything worthwhile in the whole story. I could hear those inner voices saying, “That’s so self-indulgent. You really think someone else would want to read this navel gazing? You are so misguided.” “What a waste of time. You should just walk away from this project now and save everyone a lot of trouble.”

And so it was in this frame of mind that I walked into a special day-long gathering of our Mastermind, newly-completed manuscript in hand.  I was so convinced that there was nothing of value in the document, I had planned to hand out random pages to each person, asking them to find at least one word that was strong. Michele, in her greater wisdom, changed my plan. She directed me to choose one paragraph and read that aloud to the group so everyone was listening to the same words at the same time. I read quickly, looking down at my page, not daring to breathe or look at my audience. As I completed my reading, I heard Michele say, “Look up.” Reluctantly I looked up.

Each person sitting around that table was crying. Kleenex tissues were being passed around. “What the hell?” “This is only a draft. It shouldn’t have any effect on people. These words are so imperfect. Why are they crying?”

I heard Michele direct me once again, “Read it again, and this time more slowly. Take your time with the words.” Others agreed, saying, “Yes please. These words have touched me so deeply.”  By reflecting their emotional responses back to me, I began to feel the power of my words once again. The editor gets most active when the words are most powerful – I knew that, and I had to be reminded one more time. This review process allowed me to leave the day feeling energized and encouraged to return to my writing.

My experience within the Language of Yoga Mastermind is the fuel for what I offer to those who choose to work and play with me. I want you feel what it is like to love your words, and in that process, open up to new possibilities.

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