Write for Your Life

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Character Worksheets

They circled and circled the tree, looking for the very sorrow that would be exactly fitting and bearable, the one sorrow that would fulfill them. But after much searching, each inevitably reclaimed his or her own pain. Whatever our story is, we must come to know it.


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It is given to us the way we are given ourselves; it is the source and the record of our identity. Perhaps story is the only thing we have at the end of our lives, and it is everything. Imagine that you are at the end of your life.

Write for Your Life

Without hesitating, without thinking, record the story you have lived in five sentences. It is difficult for us to give up our grief because it is ours and through it we create identity. But sometimes the story, or the sorrow, to which we are clinging is no longer dependable. Story, if we allow it, can also trap us.

It can become the treadmill, the rut. It can ravage and reduce us rather than inform and expand our life. One can be as zealous in creating a false story as another might be in discovering the authentic one. Repeatedly telling a cover story is one of the ways we avoid the one story we must come to know.

How to Write Your Story in 6 Steps

Offered the opportunity to know the deepest story, we tell the very same cover tale again, ever more ardently, out of fear of being in the unknown, out of self-pity, self-righteousness, out of despair. Refusing to relinquish these misbegotten tales, we find ourselves choosing a life that has nothing to do with our own. Is there a story, then, of their assimilation? He was adamant that there was no story to be told, and I felt it would be disrespectful to insist. But my intuition persisted.

How to Write Your Story in 6 Steps | Positive Writer

The way he insisted on the absence of story sounded like an amputation, and I wanted to know about the missing limb. Over time I suggested there might be a story, and over the same period of time, circumstances alerted Dan to the possibility that another story might be hovering beneath the one he was telling of his cultural neutrality. Indeed, he discovered that his grandfather had kept a journal at the turn of the century during the first years that he had come to this country from Mexico.

This discovery opened a door into story that Dan could not have predicted.


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It took Dan back into the past, and it changed his future. The exploration of the Grandfather is a rummaging through the forbidden story, which was admitting I am Mexican. Being born in the fifties meant Mexican was a socially incorrect nationality, especially in Covina. I did not learn Spanish when it was mandatory in the lower grades, because it took me one step closer to the bloodline I was denying.

No, no.

follow link By using my imagination, I was able to approach my heritage through the back door. It was a way of easing into the current without knowing it. An authentic story is open-ended. It can change. It can be transformed, and it has elements of the unknown. It combines all the elements until everything fits. It resembles other stories sometimes exactly, giving us the impression that we have been here before, and yet there is also something mysterious about it, something ambiguous, even contradictory, and that part is equally fascinating. You are in illusion.

The exploration of the Grandfather is a jumbled story with three primary sources: the image of the ideal mentor grandfather; my maternal grandfather, of whom little is known, except that he was an Indian from Mexico who loved to play music and left when my mother was young; and, lastly, my paternal grandfather, who was a working-class property owner from Zacatecas, Mexico, and whom I know through his journal and the stories my father tells. In your workshop, my imagination was freed to create a composite grandfather.

My maternal grandfather left twenty years before I was born, and my paternal grandfather died eight years before I was born. The act of writing results in a heightened sense of awareness and a sense of identity. The individual also develops a deeper understanding of his or her place in the world.

BJB: Can you explain the concept of writing as a transpersonal practice that encourages self-discovery? Transpersonal psychology is about exploring the unconscious mind as a way to tap into the higher self. This newest branch of psychology grew out of the mid-twentieth-century humanistic psychology movement and encompasses alternative states of consciousness. Transpersonal psychology also comprises other types of psychology, such as psychoanalytic, Jungian, behavioristic, and humanistic.

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In essence, it incorporates the spiritual aspects of the human experience. In addition, transpersonal psychology accentuates various ways of healing. Writing is considered a transpersonal practice because it encourages self-expression and self-discovery. By documenting the narrative of our lives, we have the chance to relive, examine, and reconstruct our lived experiences in a way that may be empowering.

Writing also helps identify strengths and weaknesses that may highlight how we can achieve our full potential, thus leading to a happier life. DR : Dealing with our emotions through writing is a private and safe way to expose our innermost emotions that we may have bottled up inside. Releasing our feelings on the page helps to dissipate them. Social psychologist James Pennebaker conducted the earliest studies showing that therapeutic writing helps put trauma to rest and helps heal the body, mind, and spirit.

Suppressing our stories can actually lead to ill health. Even if we try to put painful experiences aside, they will always be there, and may resurface at unexpected moments. Sometimes we suppress such memories as a coping mechanism. However, during the writing process, these memories can resurface, and as they arise, they can contribute to our healing process. BJB: When writing a memoir, how do you determine which secret or piece of information is too personal to reveal?

DR : A memoir is a first-person account chronicling a slice of life, not an entire life. Typically, it holds the thread of a theme or particular focus throughout the book. What sets a memoir apart is that it presents the story as it happened and includes reflections. Most memoirists claim that they had stories to tell and felt that they were the only ones who could tell them. Others might have secrets to share, or maybe they want to write their memoirs in order to study or understand certain situations.

One of my favorites is the prompt for writing about a difficult time:. DR : I used to be guarded about my life, but now I openly share my life experiences with others. By doing so, and by listening to others share their stories, a deep sense of interconnectedness is created. Sharing stories also makes us feel less alone. By being aware of how other people navigate their journeys, we learn to navigate our own. BJB : What has been the most unexpected or surprising part about being writer?

DR : The most surprising thing about being a writer is how easy it has been to write about my most personal experiences, and how well received my stories have been. This makes me feel that my overarching desire to help humanity is being met in some small way.