What is Writing for Wellbeing?
We all have access to the world’s oldest and cheapest self-help tool. I may have a fancy degree in literature, but everything I know about the healing power of writing is what life taught me the hard way. When I learned that my husband had a terminal illness, I instinctively reached for my journal. It may have taken a dozen or so journals before I wrote myself whole again, but I always knew that my healing would happen in the pages of my journal.
Learn how to narrate your personal story
What makes writing so effective is the way we use narrative to create meaning for ourselves. Our identities are made up of the stories we tell about who we are, what has been and where we are headed. Every day in our heads and hearts we edit and rewrite our self narratives as we travel on the roller coaster of life.
We tend to be harsh storytellers of our personal narratives. We let our inner editor sabotage us into crafting negative self narratives. If something didn’t work out, we think of ourselves as failures. Shattered dreams and setbacks can keep us frozen in negative self narratives, sometimes for a lifetime. But it’s never too late to re-write even our most toxic self narratives.
Become the author of your life
We are in charge of the narratives we tell ourselves. A regular personal writing practice can teach us how to craft alternative stories for ourselves that will carry us forward to the next chapter rather than keep us stuck. Learning to be the authors of our lives allows us to shape the raw material of our messy stories into tender tales of redemption, of obstacles met and overcome; errors we’ve made can become important turning points that allow us to grow and learn.
When we are in the midst of an emotional crisis, stuck in a narrative of despair, or simply feeling disconnected from our true voice, it is often hard to see the complete picture. Writing forces us into the witness position. By naming and describing our emotions, by sorting what is messy into sentences and stories, we can gain clarity, insight and a new perspective on our inner narrative. We become at once witness and author.
“The difference between despair and hope is just a different way of telling stories from the same set of facts.” Alain de Botton, The School of Life
Everybody has a story
Personal writing is a form of self exploration that gives us access to our deepest truth and to the voice of our heart. We are made up of a chorus of voices and different official self narratives that are defined by our roles in life as parents, siblings, partners, by our careers and by our status.
Writing is a way of getting to our untold truth, our real inner story. It allows us to craft alternative, more positive stories, combining the fragments of our selves into a coherent narrative.
Writing as a practice of self-care
When we use writing as a practice in self-care, we give voice to our emotions. We process what is messy and painful, we name our fears, hopes and desires and we realise that just like a favourite character in a novel, we are flawed. It’s what makes us human and it’s what makes a fictional character engaging. It’s the first rule of any creative writing class.
Writing for wellbeing is a way of checking in with our self narratives to identify where we need to edit our personal stories to move forward and to release long-held stories that no longer serve us. It allows us to weave meaning in our lives and to practice self-compassion by silencing the inner critic so that we can tell our own unique stories.
Why a writing retreat can be deeply transformative
On retreat we have the rare chance to listen deeply to the real story that bubbles underneath the noise and distractions of daily life caught up as we are in our public self narratives. On retreat we give our inner narrative space and we connect with our true voice. We use writing to name what floats just under the surface of our conscious minds. It’ll make us understand what we really want and how to write the next chapter.
But be warned, writing for wellbeing is a way of reaching towards your deepest dreams (and fears). By the end of the retreat you might be ready to run away from home, grow raw cacao in Bali and write haikus for the rest of your life. You never know where it will take you!
Why Writing for Wellbeing is suitable for everyone
Whether you are a professional writer, a published author or a beginning writer in search of your writing voice, the kind of writing we will do at this retreat will make you a better writer.
We will use a range of writing exercises, from journaling and meditative writing, to timed free writing and creative writing prompts.
Journaling and freewriting trains the writing muscle, silences the inner editor, liberates you to take risks and let’s you tap into the subconscious mind where you will find the gems of your creative mind. Personal writing teaches you to write about emotion, how to get into your character’s head so that you can write fully fleshed out characters that resonate with your readers.
We will use the unfamiliar environment of Bali to hone our skills of observation and our descriptive writing skills. A sustained daily practice will free our creative voices. We will experiment with storytelling and character development and see where it takes us.
We will take home with us new stories, fresh inspiration and insight and a range of new skills.
Do you need any more reasons to run away to the pristine mountains of central Bali with me for a week of writing, yoga & deep relaxation to the ancient sounds of Himalayan sound bowls?
Stay tuned for #3: Sound Bowl Balancing will make your Creativity flow
Writing for Wellbeing in Bali: Find Your Voice, Release Your Stories, Unleash Your Creativity with yoga & sound bowl balancing
October 30 – November 6, 2017
(retreat starts the day after the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival)
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