‘Tis like the birthday of the world,
When earth was born in bloom;
The light is made of many dyes,
The air is all perfume:
There’s crimson buds, and white and blue,
The very rainbow showers
Have turned to blossoms where they fell,
And sown the earth with flowers.”
May–A month of endings and beginnings
The first burst of roses have come to an end, but in my imagination they are still there, full and glittering in their splendor and beauty. Already I mourn for that first flush of spring that has passed, but I know that the season will bring more flowers–in California all the way through December! I have faith in this ongoing conversation the earth has with the sun and the possibilities that have not yet flowered.
And our creative work has these cycles as well. We must endure the times when the petals are ragged and the new blooms are not yet in bud, when what will appear seems only a dream or a wish. As I teach my classes, I repeat the words of hope and faith to my writers. I see in their eyes sometimes the weariness of writing on and on about memories, family, and events that at first they were motivated to write. Now when the pen encounters the paper, a jittery doubt sets in and silence comes over them. I diagnose this malaise as an attack by the inner critic.
The inner critic can all too often unloads a bunch of new diatribes that all too often stop writers from writing:
- This is boring
- You have no right to write about other people
- No one else will care about this No one in your family will speak to you again
- You can’t really write, so why bother
- Can’t you stop living in the past? Just forget all this.
A helpful technique:
Part one: Write down what your inner critic has to say. I know, it seems terrible, but it’s important to get those voices out of your head and onto the page where you can see them more objectively. Keep track of what the inner critic has to say and keep a running list. If the voices really get in the way, stop writing and make your list.
Part two: Answer the critic with a positive affirmation. For instance, if it says, “this is boring,” your affirmation might be: “People have told me that my stories were interesting; for now, I will write and allow them to come out.” From, “No one will care about this” to “I care about my life and what happened. I give myself permission to simply write my stories. I refuse to give in to the negative voice.”
From, “Can’t you stop living in the past?”to “I’m living in the present as I write the powerful stories that shaped who I am. I am going to write my view of my life and come to a deeper understanding of myself.”
This technique of getting out the “poison” and infusing your mind with positive affirmations is one of the most powerful psychological and spiritual techniques you can use. It is a tired and true way of healing and overcoming internal barriers. I’ve seen it work with many people, and it really worked for me. I had one of the worst, nastiest inner critics on the planet, but gradually I began to control it instead of it controlling me. I struggled for a long time with it, so know that you are not alone. This issue is one of the most common ones that comes up with all my students and in my coaching work.
Keep writing! Be Brave–Write Your Stories!
Writing as Healing Virtual Conference links
In April, the National Association of Memoir Writers presented a free virtual conference about the subject of writing as healing. We were so pleased to have many callers on the line, and great energy about the subject and the presenters. Dr. James Pennebaker, the premier researcher about writing as healing told us the newest developments in the field, while Kay Adams gave a seminar on how to use writing to calm your inner chaos. Dr. Lucia Capacchione was eager to share her work about using the non-dominant hand to heal the inner child, and Christina Baldwin, author of Storycatcher, told us all how to become storycatchers. We ended the day with a powerful talk by Marina Nemat, author of Prisoner of Tehran, who talked about how she healed the trauma of her imprisonment in the Evin prison in Tehran by writing.
The audios are available for you to listen here: http://www.namw.org/free-stuff/
Summer Classes in Berkeley
We begin a new session June, and have room for one more! As a group, we write about the important moments in our lives–childhood memories, careers, love and family, and spiritual quests. Some writers use poetry and prose to capture memories and to explore the richness of life. We write about important turning points–the lighter, humorous moments along with the dark nights of the soul. There is laughter and a few tears, and most of all the witnessing of our stories, an important part of transformational writing. People of every age learn from each other’s experiences and inspires each other to keep writing insightful and thoughtful true stories. You will learn how to choose your scenes, how to use fictional tools, and ways to keep the inner critic at bay. We write during class, and share our work in a supportive atmosphere.
To register, click here or you can call Linda at 510-524-3898.
Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the mornings hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
of quiet birds in circled flight,
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there, I did not die.
This time of year many of us welcome Memorial Day as a much needed vacation, but in communities all across the United States, a solemn ritual occurs. Relatives, friends, and close family members place flowers on graves and whisper prayers about their loved ones. For some, there is the raw grief of someone who has just left the world, for others, they want to honor and remember someone they loved. It is a time to reflect, to appreciate life, and to remember.
- One way to do this is to write a brief poem for the person as a remembrance.
- Another way to honor someone is to write a character sketch of the person–in action, talking, walking, waving their arms, or whatever they did that was unique and special in the way they carried themselves.
- Let the voice of the person you are honoring come through in dialogue. Put their words on the page as they discuss, rant, debate or teach you how to make pie.
- Create a scene in which they come alive. Be sure to include sensual details to help us enter your world completely.