Our lives are made up of stories, storytelling, of being in our own experience. When we share who we are, where we’ve come from, what makes up our life, we are telling and sharing our story–and this opens space for healing. For some of us, writing is how we know what we think about things. Flannery O’Connor once said, “…I have to write to discover what I am doing. Like the old lady, I don’t know so well what I think until I see what I say; then I have to say it again.”
In the Christian Women’s Writing Circles I lead, I base much of the actual writing on Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within and my time in the Women Writing their Lives Circle through Womanspace in Athens, Georgia. First we must have a fast moving pen. It is important to choose a pen that is comfortable and quick because our minds go faster than our hands. Goldberg states, “You want to feel the connection and texture of the pen on paper.” Second, consider what you want to write on. It’s important that your paper is not too fancy, heavy, or awkward. Perhaps a spiral notebook, a journal, or a sheaf of papers will do. The most important thing is not too take yourself too seriously. The worst feeling is to write on a super fancy journal only to feel the pressure that your words match the fanciness of the page!
“This is your equipment, like hammer and nails to a carpenter.”
~ Natalie Goldberg
Here are a few guidelines for timed writing practice that I use in my Writing Circles:
- Keep your hand moving.
- Don’t cross out.
- Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, and grammar.
- Don’t think. Don’t get logical.
“These are the rules. It is important to adhere to them because the aim is to burn through the first thoughts,
to the place where energy is unobstructed by social politeness of the internal censor, to the place where you are writing
what your mind actually sees and feels, not what it thinks it should see or feel.”
~ Natalie Goldberg
What we do in the Women’s Writing Circle, is we come together with the understanding that all that is shared and spoken–even who is present–is confidential, and we write. I offer writing prompts, we write anywhere from two to ten minutes, we pause, we might read what we’ve written, and then we meet the page again. We do have time to check in with ourselves and each other as we go along and before we wrap up our Circle.
Writing in this way causes a solitary action to become a communal event. We are sitting in and sharing space as we dive a little deeper below the surface, getting to the nuggets that are resting and waiting for us, while we support one another in a safe place. Throughout the entire process, God is near and ever with us as we open up new doorways to enter into our heartspace. The purpose of writing and sharing in this way is to fellowship in a new way; to hold space for one another in a unique way that opens the door to personal transformation in our walk with God.
If you are interested in joining me in a Women’s Writing Circle, I’d love to have you. You can find out more information here.