Magic happens when people write together and then read what they’ve written. I know it sounds corny but it’s true. Take the raw materials from your life, weave a story, and experience the alchemy.
In last night’s MeetUp group at Rutgers Church, seven of us gathered and each had about ten minutes to read what we’d written. Then we briefly talked about the craft of writing. We went around the circle and read. We laughed and we cried. Just hearing our work out loud changes what we’ve written.
Sometimes a group can gather, as I’ve done too at a Wednesday writing group at the Interchurch Center. We each start with a blank paper and pen. And creative prompts are shared — inspired from Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, or Dan Wakefield’s The Story of Your Life. This last book is the one I used at the International Women’s Writing Guild this summer.
The creative prompts we wrote from then were:
I felt safe when…
My mentor or hero was…
My first job was…
I was really angry with…
Because this is the season of Thanksgiving, it’s always awesome to write about:
When I felt grateful, I…
I have blogged with a few of the essays that I wrote from the Wednesday writing group.
I also want to continue to make this kind of writing circle happen for more people. So check out what’s up and coming at Writer’s Boot Camp MeetUp. But most importantly, keep writing.
This morning Kelly forwarded me a question someone had written on our website, “What do you mean by spiritual autobiography? How is that supposed to help us grow?”
I felt defensive. Isn’t it obvious, dear reader?
But I’ve learned that quick email replies have helped my business. Answering random emails is part of the small business owner’s task. This is especially true as I’m trying to get participants to this month’s Writing Workshops. So here’s what I wrote to the person (who did not leave his/her name!)
Here’s what I mean: In the spiritual autobiography class, we look at moments in our lives not as random but as meaningful — small moments and big moments. For ex., being in my Scandinavian grandma’s kitchen was as sacred as church.
We look for the times when we turned one way instead of another — times when we felt found after feeling lost. These are the moments we look for and write about.
How spiritual autobiography helps: We see the pattern in our lives. When we find these threads of holy and sacred throughout our lives, we can create the patchwork quilt of our purpose. Like all quilts, this will warm and comfort us. It will add beauty to our lives.
We see the events in our lives. not as the results of a roll of the dice but as the intentional striving for growth — spiritual and personal growth. But we find within ourselves an increased sense of belonging, responsibility, and purpose.
I’ve taught this class in weekly sessions and in day-long retreats. Most recently, at the end of March, I led this class for an afternoon session at First Church in Jamaica Plain, Boston. We laughed and cried. It’s a privilege to do this work. Thanks for being interested and for inquiring.