Thursday, June 12, 2008

Giving Ourselves Permission to Tell Stories

Years ago, when I was teaching Creative Writing, I remember students signing up for my workshop because in their own words, they had "really routine jobs and home lives, and they wanted to see if they could do something creative." Commonly, one of their pleasures was that they enjoyed reading, so their choice was to try and express creativity through writing. They wanted to know first hand that they were capable of being creative and that their stories could captivate people's imaginations and hold their attention.

On the first night of class, I informed them that there were absolutely no restrictions on subject matter. Their only requirement was to write something every week, with no requirement or expectation as to what that might be, and they could get immediate feedback on their writing by their classmates listening and responding to the reading of their stories.

There were people who entered my workshop wondering if they really had any creative ability who went home knowing that they did. They enjoyed themselves and the listeners enjoyed themselves.The first step they had to take was to not censor themselves and just say what they had to say. That simple step opened people up and changed their lives.

The first person you please when you write something is yourself. The readers are next. If you can drop the conditioning that holds you back from saying something because it might offend someone else, you open your expression to not having limits, and what you can create evolves into something beautiful.There are times when it is cathartic to just write something.

Whether you call it inspired, channeled, a crazy dream, funny story, or real life incident that you want to recall and replay, writing about it can be a healing act. Even if it does not get published, you still feel good from saying it, from writing it. Write it first, and worry about what will become of it later.Once you give yourself permission to write whatever you want, it is amazing what might come out. I know. I have experienced it, and the results were wonderful, life affirming and powerful. If you have an urge or an instinct that this is something you want to try, I will help you express yourself.

Humans are storytellers by nature. From mythology to biography and everything in between, it's in our nature to tell stories. From gossip to jokes to opinions on current events and the future of the world, it's all part of our conversations, because it is part of how we share ourselves and our experiences to get our bearings and enhance this journey. It is all storytelling, and if we simply give ourselves permission, we can become storytellers, even if our only audience, at first, is ourselves.

As we make up new stories, we can make up new stories for ourselves to live by. We all have the opportunity to rewrite our own stories, from today to the end. What does your story read like? How would you like it to read? There is magic and power in the rewriting. If you would like to know how, I will be happy to read your writing and give you feedback.

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