When I first felt the compulsion to write I was baffled as to why I was being pulled in this direction. Aren’t writers a bunch of people who sit in corners all by themselves and well, write?
I mean how’s it different to wanking?
My views of writers were that they’re all alone, disconnected, with nobody to love them, stimulating their own minds and perhaps getting some gratification out of words blossoming on their own papers or screens.
An extrovert, I didn’t see the point of any work, majority of which never even reaches any reader. Only when there’s a reader, a receptive and fertile mind can the idea seeds take hold and lead to positive action. Very inefficient work I’d think to myself as I’d pick up the pen and the keyboard to write long e-mails or SMSes destined never to be read. Because TL;DR (too long, didn’t read).
Today, I accept that I am a writer. The way I get clarity it by getting thoughts out as words in text. Writing helps me get organised, polish my phrasing and present to others in a structured way. This ensures that the information I share sticks with them and leads to action.
Our brains are wired to organise disjointed ideas into a narrative called a story. If a writer takes the time to structure a story for her audience then, they’re likely to connect emotionally and be moved to action.
Writing is also therapy and I strongly suspect that all of us have the ability to write in our unique voices and hence can tell our own stories better than any ghost writer who hasn’t walked in our shoes.
It’s empowering as a writer to think that the work we do matters to businesses and the whole of society. For the longest time, my biggest block in writing was thinking about what good my words were.
The fact is that writing was healing me.
It was a dump of my mind chatter and through getting it out I was able to silence my mind and gain clarity. I could see the people and the events busying my mind in an objective way and analyse the best way to approach challenges and address problems in my life. Many emotions I felt, mostly negative, needed to be acknowledged for me to move forward in a positive manner without the emotional baggage. Capturing emotions by putting a label on them through journaling is the single most efficient way I know for me to shed the excess mental clutter and travel through my day light and in a present and a pleasant manner.
Fortunately, doing the work, writing every day, and then finding other storytellers whose work heals people, hence providing a service to their communities, has strengthened my resolve to keep doing this work professionally.
My biggest block, I recognised, is my inherited middle class values. I largely resisted doing anything that’s not busy work without an immediate paycheque. Even though doing internal work like meditation, taking time for self-care and wellbeing isn’t selfish but a necessity if we are to serve our community with generosity, all of this seemed extremely frivolous, useless and meaningless to me for far too long.
Even though I wasn’t satisfied with my life when I was ignoring what I was, a writer, I didn’t have the good fortune(!) of depression, anxiety or a nervous breakdown, which would have stopped the craziness and led me to someone who’d help me take care of my mind.
Fortunately, it’s never too late.
We can all start creating time to start examining our lives.
“An unexamined life is not worth living.”
Breathe Magazine has provided me with great resources on acknowledging my creativity, going after it and using mindfulness to prevent burnout. I also see a great wealth of information on Medium on this topic and am hopeful that as humanity we are waking up and starting to recover from the epidemic of busy minds, busy bodies, and no time for the essentials of a good life.
I see a big job for writers, and not just writers but storytellers using any medium, to help people recover from busy-ness which takes them away from key relationships with themselves, family, friends and the community.
Francesca Baker writes in her article Why stories matter published in Breathe Magazine that according to a psychology experiment conducted and published in Basic & Applied Psychology, MRI scans of individuals engaged in stories showed an activation of the brain responsible for empathy, connection and relationships.
Changing Your Personal Narrative Changes Your Life
We are all heroes of our own lives and though we may have been held back by emotional trauma in the past, we don’t need to carry it forward. The only way to change your narrative? Acknowledge the negative emotions you felt, go back and deal with the past. This is the service Sarah Krasnostein, criminal lawyer and writer of The Trauma Cleaner has provided to Sandra Pankhurst, who was “bursting at the seams for her story to come out”.
Sandra, a trauma cleaner, who goes into the homes of hoarders, or where violent or otherwise deaths have occurred, is a survivor of trauma herself. Through collaboration with Sarah and airing out her mind which houses trauma, I feel she’s had a chance to find greater peace. Indeed, in the UK there are community interest groups called Narrative Workshops where people can share their stories with others and through doing this, they find the power to live through painful health conditions.
Storytelling in the form of creative expression as therapy is also gaining support from traditional healthcare providers. Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board’s mental health unit in Wales has appointed a clinical nurse specialist in storytelling.
As a storyteller, I hope more people in the health profession embrace the therapeutic power of stories to heal themselves and those around them. I’ve seen the benefits of writing regularly in my own life and would love to see more and more stories of ordinary day heroes like Sandra Pankhurst see the daylight to inspire others to overcome whatever is holding them back.
Over to you…
Who are you looking to have a better relationship with and what story are you going to share with someone you care about today?