Introduction to Life Writing
I support people who want to create a written narrative for their family and friends. Life writing gives you the opportunity to create something that tells your story in the way you want it to be told. The process will take you through a whole range of emotions as you explore memories and experiences. But I am inspired by the power of the written word and I do believe that life writing can be a transformative experience for anyone.
This is about speaking your truth in the way you want.
How it can help
It probably sounds like a cliche when I write that this is a life-affirming experience. But like all cliches it’s true. The reasons may be more surprising than you might think.
Collaborating with me to shape the story of your life is going to be cathartic, we have happy moments, we get frustrated, sometimes angry, most of all we have a sense of achievement and usually a ridiculous amount of fun. But more than that it can help you to see things differently. From all the highs and lows we share during the life writing process, an unexpected clarity about things can emerge.
By taking control of the narrative you can use your imagination to determine how your voice is heard. You are recreating yourself in writing, which creates positivity and stronger connections to life. It gives you the strength to focus on the things you have control over and the changes you can make. For me, it’s a huge privilege to be part of this shift in consciousness.
How we will work together
To get the life writing process moving we need to focus on time and place, when and how we will work together and where we will spend time together. You will have some work to do, mostly thinking and exploring ideas, maybe keeping some notes somewhere, like a journal or on your phone.
The life writing process benefits from time. So as soon as you are ready is a good time to start. There are two important reasons for this. First because the more time we get to spend working together the better the end result will be.
Secondly, the narrative we shape together is a living document. Once the first draft has been compiled, you will be inspired to change or add things. And you will almost certainly want to keep doing that.
Life writing can take many forms. You are probably not going to write an epic poem or a full-length biography. But you might capture a compendium of different experiences or contemplations on what life means to you. It could be a recipe book of life’s lessons, something that gets read and reread many times. You might just decide to write a simple narrative of your life from the beginning.
What matters for now, is how we put the content together. The choice is always yours and in many ways without deciding anything as we collaborate, the life writing process will naturally take its own course. As the narrative takes shape, we just concentrate on pulling it all together.
Who you are writing for
What I will be encouraging you to do first of all, even before we begin to work together, is to consider your audience. Like all writing, you need to think about what you want your readers to get out of the experience. Like any literary endeavour we need to have this in mind while we are writing. It acts as a kind of anchor, helping us to focus on tone of voice, the register of language we use and the images we create.
If it is just going to be something for family, you’ll want to pitch it in an intimate, familiar tone. If you are writing for a wider circle of friends, you may want to make them laugh, to see the funny, upbeat side of things. In my view the life writing process can be all of these things and something each individual can use in just the way they need it.
Working out what to write
We can do that in different ways but I find the most effective way to get the creativity flowing is to think of yourself as a diamond with many different facets. We look at the many different aspects of you and your life. What makes you uniquely you?
We will explore your important life lessons, your values, what you believe in, what motivates and inspires you, what you are proud of and passionate about, what gets you up in the morning, the advice you give to others, the people who have mentored you, the maxims and aphorisms that you motivate, your best books, quotations, music and art.
And of course, we will do all this through the memories, stories and anecdotes of your life experiences. Everything that you have done will have a specific resonance or special meaning to you depending on many different factors. My job is to support you through a safe and caring creative journey. As well as making sure that we are having fun.
Where do we do it
It’s best if early on we can spend some really good quality time together, without distraction or worry, just to get our ideas and thoughts aligned and to give you time to reflect on your ideas. This will ultimately shape the narrative we are going to write.
We can get together anywhere, the only thing that matters is that we do so in person. You need to be comfortable with me and feel that I am the right person to collaborate in this process.
The best results come from being away from your daily worries and routine challenges.
The life writing process benefits from what I call intentionality of place, somewhere other than your usual environment that you have chosen to be. Having control of this helps to liberate your thinking, encourages you to talk openly and in confidence and to let your imagination run free.
It might be on a campsite or a boat, up a mountain or in a cottage. Maybe together we will cook your best food or just sit and look at a great view. We might swim in the sea or fish on a river as we talk and share ideas. Or I might just sit beside you quietly, wherever you are, while you talk about doing these things.
All that matters is that you feel able to share whatever you want to say.
The end result
There are different approaches to the life writing process, creating the content and the outcome you want. And it can take as long as you want. There is no timetable other than the one you want to put on the process. Once we have collated all the fragments of the narrative, all the ideas you want to share, we know who we are writing for, then we can decide how it will look and feel.
We put it all together from the scrapbook of thoughts and ideas we have collected about your life and the experiences that make you. The final look of the final manuscript can be anything from a simple pdf file to a beautiful photobook.
The first step
When you are ready, drop me a line or give me a call. In the first instance we can talk by phone or video chat. I can answer any questions and you can tell me about your expectations and hopes from the process. Then we can make a plan to meet in person.
Every journey starts with a single step.