I was still on the slippery slope trying to pick myself up after my bereavement, when my big 50 approached. Witnessing that we can drop out of life at any moment, I knew that I needed to feed the fire in my belly before it killed me. It was time to open the door to the cave of my passion.
At nearly 50, raw from grieving and care giving, I needed a radical act of self care. I’d already made the radical choice not to return to my academic career. So, I hunkered down at home, cut down on all luxuries and expenses and enrolled in a year long online creative writing course.
And you know what? It was life changing.
Why an online creative writing course was life changing
To use Joseph Campbell’s words, I entered the cave I had feared and it held every treasure I sought. It’s not as if I came out of it with a finished novel or a book deal. Far from it. All I’ve got to show for it is a messy first draft.
What I gained was a profound understanding of the healing power of writing and a sense of my creative potential.
I discovered that I can create whatever I want if I put pen to paper regularly. It was exhilarating. It cracked me open to an untapped reservoir deep inside.
Creativity connects the head to the heart
The warm-up to my year-long creative writing course, was a compulsory 4 week course called Unlocking Creativity. The life changing magic began in that online sandbox. It was like being back at kindergarden. We splashed words onto the blank canvas of our screens with unrestrained abandon like excited pre-schoolers doing finger painting. Reclaiming the creative inner child was liberating.
Breathless with creative energy, I was discovering the possibilities of my own voice. I could write crime scenes, I could write in the voice of an old man or a young girl. I could craft childhood memories into pretty word pictures. I could capture pain and joy. I had the power to set free my memories by writing about them.
I had stepped out of my head and into a creative reservoir that flowed underneath my analytical conscious mind. I realised that what connects the head to the heart is our creativity.
Writing fiction allowed me to set free my own story
Taping into my creativity freed me from the paralysis of grief. I no longer had to write the story of how my life had exploded. I could create anything I wanted. I could create characters with red hair and freckles, I could make them Olympian swimmers or war correspondents. I could decide what food they ate and what their favourite colour was. I’d give them funky names and I could decide what emotions they felt.
I wrote a story about a romantic hero trapped inside the lie about his shady past, brokering ethically inappropriate business deals in Nigeria. It had absolutely nothing to do with my real story. And yet, the story arch, the turning points, the emotions, the plot twists, everything I wrote was anchored in my story, the drama of those last few years when my late husband became terminally ill with cancer and life as I knew it was taken away from me.
I wrote my pain and fears into the fictional characters I created and I watched them walk away with my emotions. It was liberating.
By sorting the core of my messy story into a sequence of 8 turning points, my own story began to make sense. I could see forgiveness, I could see how growth and transformation are part of the character’s journey. I could finally see redemption.
We are the author of our lives
By writing our stories into the lives of our fictional characters we release them to become their own stories. As I watched my characters walk through my drama, it became part of the universal drama of our messy humanity.
We all have our own narratives. And we all have the tools to change our stories. We can write bold new endings.
I realised I could craft a journey where I rise from the ashes, follow my passion to teach what I know about writing and healing.
Are you ready to join me in the journey of creative self-discovery?
Write Your Journey is my gift to myself and to you. Let me share with you what I know about connecting with our authentic self through writing. Allow me to be your guide as we go on a journey of creative self discovery to become who we really are.
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