You may not think of yourself as a writer or have much inclination to do so. Or perhaps you think you would like to write, but fear not being able to produce anything worthwhile, which discourages you from starting.
I look at my children and they are always drawing and scribbling away. The youngest child is asked every Monday to write a few lines about her weekend, and she came home MOST frustrated this week because she had run out of space and she still had ‘SO much to say.’
As a primary school child I loved writing short stories and poems. It was my favourite activity and then somehow, when I went on to secondary level, the urge began to dry up, then petered out altogether. I had one teacher in particular who tried to encourage me, but some message had by then filtered through to my consciousness that there was no point; I just wasn’t a writer.
Despite giving up on writing creatively, I still continued to write in the form of letters. My third year of university I lived abroad was fastidious about sending missives home every week. I enjoyed writing these immensely and it was little like keeping a journal. On any of my travels since I have written long e-mails to friends and family. I’m so grateful to have done this, as re-reading them now I am transported back to those times and memories which would otherwise have been forgotten.
Writing is by far the most therapeutic activity I’ve ever done. It surpasses the running, the yoga and even my trips into the mountains. It’s difficult to carve out the time to settle down and write as often as I like, and it’s easy to go for days without putting down anything of substance. However, writing has allowed me to look at how the past has shaped me, and to gain a different perspective on events. As a process it can be challenging and frustrating, but ultimately, I’ve found it to be healing.
Much of the memoir work I’ve done may never be shared or published. It is the process which was important for me, and the friends and mentors I have met on my literary journey.
This Christmas, perhaps in place of a material gift, you could research a writing class and see if between the School of Open Learning at Queen’s or The Crescent Art’s Centre there’s one which could suit you.
So today, consider taking a few minutes to write. Whether it’s a letter or a journal or a response to some stimuli, give it a try and see what happens. The first time I told a story at the Tenx9 story-telling event in The Black Box, I worried that I wouldn’t be able to to fill the allotted 10 minutes. As it turned out, I was at least 200 words over the word limit and had to do some serious editing.
Unleash your writer within, and it may surprise you.