Today, please welcome back, Mari McCarthy, as she talks about how to discover what we really know and spinning this into our writing. BUT, the BIG NEWS is…today, one lucky commenter will have their choice of THREE COOL PRIZES:
Giveaway: Winner’s Choice (either an eBook copy of Dark Chocolate for the Journaler’s Soul, a spiral-bound copy of Mari’s Most Musefull Journaling Tips, or a Dark Chocolate T-Shirt)
RULES: You must leave a comment or question after today’s post before midnight tonight! I will use Random.,org to select the winner, and the winner will then select their prize!
“Write about what you know.” If you’re into writing, you’ve heard this a zillion times, and you believe it makes sense. After all, if you’ve always been rich, protected, and pampered, you’re probably not a good candidate to write about growing up in the ghetto. If you’re a cowboy, you probably don’t know much about high society manners. Sure, you can understand why it’s important to write about what you know.
So what exactly is that? What do you know well enough to write about it? Seems like such a simple question, but when you seriously examine it things get complicated, quickly.
For some (even me, many days) it’s challenging to come up with anything at all that you truly know. Other days, you may mistake raw experience for knowing, thinking that since you endured something, you then know it.
You might know what it is to lose a job, for instance, or to become a mother, but what do you know about those things that you would write about? There’s knowing that is simple cognizance, and then there’s knowing that is worth sharing.
Here’s a key point: You Do Know Something Worth Sharing. Don’t ever believe you don’t. You may, however, find the search for that Something to be interminable. Hang in there. You will find it. Your whole life may be about the search. That’s okay; there are few more noble endeavors.
Want a shortcut to finding out more about your unique knowing? There actually is a way to speed up the progress of your expanding awareness. It’s called journaling.
When you keep a journal, you take the pause that refreshes, you slow down enough to contemplate, you give yourself a chance to put the pieces together and create something new. The result? Appreciation, inspiration, and a much better idea of “what you know.”
Establish and wholeheartedly commit to a practice of writing regularly. Journal for self-discovery, which means
- Hand write in your notebook. A keyboard doesn’t yield the same direct self-perception that hand writing does.
- Do a lot of stream-of-consciousness writing.
- Be extra stern with your inner critic: this is one place that tyrant doesn’t belong.
- Be faithful to the process and to yourself; be willing to grow; be willing to be surprised.
- Ask your journal questions: Where am I going? Who am I? What do I want? What do I know? What don’t I know?
If all the introspection makes you dizzy, use a journaling prompt now and then and enjoy the revelations that kind of writing affords. Following an impartial lead can often lead to personal treasures, just as direct soul searching does. Keep your practice fresh and on its toes by mixing these two approaches.
Mari L. McCarthy, journaling therapy specialist and author, owns Create Write Now, a website dedicated to all things journaling. The site includes hundreds of journaling prompts, personal journaling stories, interviews, a blog, and many other resources. Mari has published nine books to date. For more on ways that journaling brings self-knowledge, see Who Are You? How to Use Journaling Therapy to Know and Grow Your Life.
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