Over the past week I’ve been putting together a schedule for teaching in person, and my daughter is designing the posters (I feel so fortunate to have such a creative engaged and helpful kid!)
I’m quite excited! Teaching small groups in person is something I really enjoy doing, and I’ve come up with 3 offerings: Writing Through Grief, an 8 week circle, Reclamation: a 6 week women’s writing circle, and a 2 hour introduction to memoir-writing workshop.
In the process of developing and planning for these writing courses I’ve been thinking a lot about why people write, what they write about, and what challenges they encounter. And when I say ‘they’ I also mean ‘me’.
I’m also starting to promote Personal Mythmaking School, which is all about writing your own lifestories and memoirs – **so what is really sitting with me is this: how can I support people in writing through painful memories and trauma?**
This is a real and common challenge – how do we write about the compelling parts of our personal history when those tragic, comedic and painful memories are often tied to trauma that is still humming away inside of ourselves?
I have some tips based on my own bodywork training, healing journey and creative work so I thought I’d share them with you in case you’ve wanted to start a writing practice, but have struggled with writing about anything that feels distressing.
They also work to help you get unstuck in creative projects.
9 ways to write through painful memories and trauma, and get creatively unstuck
1 – attend to your body first. As the saying goes – ‘the issue is in the tissue’ and our tissues/body will tell us what’s going on.
2 – If you’re feeling resistance, pain, overwhelm or any sort of unpleasant emotional/physical sensation, tune in. Notice what you’re feeling, without labeling it as ‘bad.’ Just focus on being present with the sensation.
3 – as you tune into the sensations, ask these questions: What is the internal colour? Texture? Temperature? Mood? As you ask, keep your attention on your sensations, asking yourself to soften into them and tracking any changes. Trust that it will always change. Always.
4 – breathe slower and deeper, but don’t focus on deepening the inhale. Instead, focus on extending the exhale. As you do this, keep noticing any changes in your mental/physical/emotional sensations.
5 – if memories/sensations get too intense, ask yourself to notice three physical details about your surroundings. Tune in with your eyes/ears and really look/listen to those details. This will help you re-orient yourself if you’re getting overwhelmed.
6 – attend to your creative power. You can enter into an active imagination dialogue with your distress through your creative writing. Suspend judgment about this process, and start writing a dialogue. The first participant is you. The second is your sensation/mood/experience. Get curious and ask it about why it’s there, what it wants you to learn, etcetera. Keep going with a swift flow of writing, back and forth, until you feel you’ve shifted the distress/sensation. Don’t forget to be kind when you’re writing as yourself ☺
7 – try using your imagination to write from other people’s perspectives (about the experience you’re describing). If writing from the first person feels too charged, switch to a different person’s perspective. Describe the event from their eyes. Do this from as many different perspectives as you feel like.
8 – ask yourself what you need most in this moment. Is it water? A break? A walk in nature? Meditation/yoga/contemplative art-making or silence? Dancing? Allow your needs to be met by yourself. Then return to your writing.
9 – if it feels like too much to manage physical/emotional/mental distress and overwhelm on your own, please do seek out someone with specific training in nervous system trauma release. For this I recommend people who are professionally trained and certified in [Somatic Experiencing](https://traumahealing.org/) and/or [Self-Regulation Therapy](https://www.cftre.com/srt-practitioners/).
I hope this helps. Let me know if you have thoughts or questions.
by the way – I’ve got three goodies for you – Honouring the Darkness is a free winter solstice offering – it starts December 12th leading up to solstice, and you can learn more and sign up below.
My latest podcast episode is a reflective one in which I share all of my DIY podcasting tools, resources and secrets. If you’ve been thinking about starting a podcast and doing it on your own, this will be really helpful – just scroll down to the end of this newsletter for the link.
And, if you’d like to do Personal Mythmaking School, starting in February 2018, I’m offering a small discount for anyone signing up by the end of November – 3 hour-long one-on-one sessions with me, to be scheduled anytime from now until the end of the course (June 2018).
Sign ups in December will get 2 hour long one-on-one sessions with me, and sign-ups in January will get 1 one hour long session.
These early bonuses are available to the first 15 signups. You can learn more and sign up for a payment plan here. Once you’ve enrolled we can book your first session!
Of course, if you have any questions, I’m happy to answer them via e-mail or videocall – click here to schedule a free 20 minute conversation with me.