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Women's Empowerment Stories ...

Getting Started with Journal Writing

Resources and practices that supported Mirelle in her journaling.

Writing tools and teachers

The three books that have been the most helpful for me are:

  1. Natalie Goldberg`s Wild Mind - Living the Life of the Writer

  2. Christina Baldwin`s - Life`s Companion - Journal Writing as a Spiritual Quest

  3. Julia Cameron and Mark Bryan`s - The Artist`s Way

These books gave me a good understanding of the ‘flow writing` concept, which has been crucial for me in stretching my limits, finding my own voice and learning to trust it. According to Christina Baldwin, “flow writing is the foundation of learning to trust our own minds... and it allows us to learn that no matter where we start, words will come to us.”

Setting the mood

Thanks to The Artist`s Way, I have managed to commit to a daily writing practice (which, by the way, has proven to be most essential both in terms of sanity and creativity!). I do it first thing in the morning, before my son gets up. That way I make sure that I do have my writing done each day and I avoid any frustration or resentment. I have found that it is a lot easier to give my son attention once I`ve given myself attention.

My ‘morning pages` have become a bit of a ritual. I like lighting candles before I start writing. It is my cue that I am entering my time, that this is nourishment and self-care, thus ‘sacred` time in the sacred space that I have created.

I like keeping ‘special candles,` the ones for instance, that I have brought back from my spirituality or dancing circles. I light them when I especially need to feel the support of my community or to draw on its vast energy.

I also like to burn incense, it`s another simple way to treat myself and to make this time special. When I need to, before I start my morning pages, I invoke my writing teachers and ask them for inspiration and for the courage to look at my truth.

In my writing room, I have created a space where I am surrounded by beauty and meaningful reminders of my aspirations. Photographs of sacred circle dancers and of sites that I find inspiring; drawings of the sanctuary I want to manifest in this lifetime; colours that nourish and energize me; precious objects and stones; ‘life-saving` quotes! So, when I look up, everything I look at speaks to me of creativity, beauty, purpose and passion.

Before I had my own room, I used to create sacred space on my kitchen table by setting up a ‘mini` altar each day. I realized that I could create ‘sacred space` anywhere, and the kitchen was great because I liked to think that the creative, loving energy from my morning ritual was still around when we cooked our meals!

Getting down to business

Flow writing is about getting past the editor, the voice that wants to avoid any delicate topic and that writes bland and boring pieces because it won`t dare look at the truth. Here is what Natalie Goldberg has to say about flow writing: “Say what you have to say. Don`t worry about being correct, polite, and appropriate. Just let it rip. Say what you want, just go for it. That`s how the writing can take a substantial turn toward authenticity.”

Some suggestions for starting points: I remember; I don`t remember; I know; I don`t know; I want; I don`t want; I feel; I don`t feel. “These can take us in positive and negative directions, in obvious and hidden places, in the conscious and the unconscious.”*

Whenever I seem to get stuck and don`t know how to “keep my hand moving,” I try different approaches. Sometimes, I keep going back to my starting point over and over again. Sometimes I just stay with my thoughts and write about my fear of looking at an issue. Over the years and the notebooks..., staying with my thoughts and my writing has helped me learn to cut through my resistance.

One very helpful piece of advice for me over the years, from Christina Baldwin: when you don`t know what to write next, ask yourself: what is the next question you need an answer to. She also highly recommends writing dialogues when we get stuck, as one very efficient tool to get to the heart of the matter.

A few writing exercises:

  • Who are you?*

  • Who is the one who resides in silence?

  • If you are not your ego, who will you be?

  • Write about the self you are becoming.

  • Own your growth and power.

  • Discuss humbleness of heart. Write a new spiritual definition of discipline.

  • Write a dialogue between yourself and the sacred

  • Write a dialogue between your needs and your desires.

  • Write a dialogue between yourself and your sore throat! (What does it have to say that you need to know?)

* Source: Life`s Companion by Christina Baldwin

~ Mireille Dupuis

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