During these past few weeks, I’ve been thinking about how chaotic life can be in the moment. It feels like we are constantly constructing our reality as we live it. A phrase I’ve heard regarding building a business – "building the plane as you fly it"– seems to apply to writing as well. Essentially, we make it up as we go; we live our lives and reflect on them later.
I suggest that for memoir writers, this phrase could be adapted to something like: Create meaning when you pause for self-reflection.
Consider this: we make the best decisions we can in the moment, not necessarily knowing what the future holds for us. It’s only when we’re able to look back, to pause and take time for self-reflection, that we can start to see the larger picture. In my experience, it’s been helpful to write during introspective times, recording highs and lows, regrets, successes, and everything in between. Writing helps create clarity, the way adjusting a camera lens brings blurry images into focus.
Perhaps you start writing in your journal every morning to reflect on the day before. Maybe it’s helpful to create writing topics, then let your words flow onto the page for ten minutes. What matters is that you are writing. Over time, new insights and awareness for your life emerge.
As someone who has lived through significant life-transforming experiences, are there lessons you want to share with others? Are there people “out there” that you know could benefit from hearing your stories? A great next step could be finding a trusted person or group for sharing your words. Hearing from others who know about respectful listening and encouraging feedback has profound effects on you as writer, and your audience. Your listeners may see aspects of your creation you have not noticed yet.
When you choose to share your words, you are supporting other people on their journey so they don't feel so alone. Your self-reflection may provide the catalyst for others to gain insight into their own lives. As Natalie Goldberg writes in the introduction to her book about memoir writing, Old Friend from Far Away, “Writing is the act of reaching across the abyss of isolation to share and reflect...”
You have a beautiful, important story– a story that others can learn from and use to their benefit. When you write for yourself, you also write for a future audience.
What if you could be a writer who impacts people with your words? What if 2021 is the year you begin to make meaning of your life through writing? My Writing from the Heart Retreat could be just what you need to begin an exciting journey of self-reflection and creativity that will launch your whole year. Want to know more?