Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Journaling In Safety And Sharing

Writing workshops through the Women's Writing Circle offer safety, confidentiality and sharing ... a chance to let down our hair while honoring our desire to write and create.

Many of us are under enormous stress and pressure; feelings put on paper help minimize anxiety. We realize, too, through the themes expressed in our writing and read in the Circle that we are not alone.
I felt very fortunate this past weekend to co-teach our journaling workshop with Kathleen Pooler, http://krpooler.com/  retired nurse practitioner, memoir writer and inspiring teacher.  Kathy arrived from upstate New York to share her knowledge with us.
This week Kathy wrote: "It was truly an honor and a pleasure to meet you all in person and share the day with you. Thank you so much for your warm welcome and heartfelt sharing. I appreciate how much I learned from all of you in the workshop, as well as how much fun I had!"

At our workshop, "Journaling: A Voyage of Self-Discovery," Kathy taught us:
  • Establish a habit and commit on a daily basis to writing in your journal.
  • Make a space where you can write and relax without interruption.
  • Give yourself credit for writing in your journal. It takes commitment and courage.
  • Realize that the "roadmap" of your story may take time to reveal itself.
  • Give yourself unconditional acceptance and honor your desire to write.
  • Write without an eye toward your inner critic.  A journal is your safe place, a repository for thoughts. A journal is for your eyes only.
  • Realize that medical science has proven that journaling helps you become a healthier person and improves your immune system.
  • Journal vignettes often point the way to a larger narrative and can be incorporated into a future memoir project.

"Magic" is possible when we gather together, light the candle, and begin our journey in an intimate setting that stimulates and ignites reflection and creativity. 

On a "soul card" at the end of our day,  a workshop participant wrote:  "I brought with me a reluctance to write about a particular topic. It was the generosity of the other writers to share their painful tales that brought down the shield.  I'll take away a lot of good information and tools for journaling . . . and I'll carry with me the generosity of all these women."

For me, personally, I brought my love of writing . . . I took away invaluable writing techniques for tapping into thoughts and feelings, without which the "heart" of any story cannot be told.  Thank you, Kathy!
What about you?  Do you have a group of writers in your neighborhood or community where you can share and work on your writing? 


Unknown said...

Susan ... You and your writing circle are so very lucky. Carol Bodensteiner are seven year long group of two , and the exerperience is often "magical" as you describe.

And you were very lucky to have had Kathy come to share her wisdom with you ...

Susan G. Weidener said...

Mary, You and Carol must be doing something right together . . . empowering each other to write the truth of your stories. You know I loved your memoir, "Sailing Down the Moonbeam," and last night I started reading Carol's lovely memoir, "Growing Up Country," and was instantly transported into America's rural past. As for the Circle, we inspire each other and are very blessed to find validation of our "voice." I would urge everyone to find a writing "buddy" or group to ease the isolation of writing.

Jan Backes said...

Thanks so much for having Kathy down to co-facilitate the Journaling Workshop. I think it is a great idea to encourage women all over the world to pair off or start a Circle of their own. As you know, I can't say enough about the Circle. I am one of the baby birds, as I like to call myself,who has the opportunity to test my wings and ultimately fly with the aid of the women in the Circle, you in particular.
Thank you again, for that opportunity. Jan

Susan G. Weidener said...

Thank you, Jan, for all you bring to the Circle, especially a strong "voice" and a willingness to "tell it like it is." Your contributions to the Circle, once again offered so freely at our workshop, are truly a privilege to "have and hold" at our gatherings.

ep said...

Thank you for re-emphasizing the key points, ideas and thoughts Kathy taught us at Saturday's workshop. Sometimes valuable information loses its place when feelings and emotions are shared. Thank you for your generosity.

Susan G. Weidener said...

Thank you, Edda, for - as always - bringing your sensitive and caring writerly voice to our workshops and to our Circle. Kathy was very adept at incorporating the key ingredients of good journaling with an emotionally empowering day. It was my joy and pleasure to bring the unique talents and perspectives of all our writers together.

kathleen pooler said...

Susan, this is a beautiful recap of the inspiring and exhilarating day we all shared. Your work with fostering women's voices through the Circle is exemplary. I feel honored to have facilitated this workshop and left filled with gratitude, hope and motivation to keep writing. Thank you for this wonderful opportunity!

Anonymous said...

Just sign me "Green with Envy in Oregon." This sounds so amazingly wonderful! One question I would have asked, and remember this is from the woman who has started journal after journal with no success: Is it best to handwrite a journal or use one on a computer, either software or online? I'd love both your thoughts, Susan and Kathy. And congrats on what must have been a successful workshop!

Susan G. Weidener said...

Welcome "From Oregon Green With Envy." Sherrey, how I wish you could have been here and enjoyed, contributed to - and have our women writers enjoy you - in the Circle! Someday . . .
In answer to your question: As I told the women in the Circle the only times I journaled was when I was in the 6th grade and kept one of those locked diaries with a little girl in a poodle skirt on the front, when a friend gave me a beautiful book to write in and then I hated to blur the creamy white pages with my terrible handwriting . . and then in a reporter's spiral notebooks after my husband died. And that only lasted for 3 months or so. Which is why Kathy was more equipped to teach our workshop than I. I love to write on a computer - have been doing it since the late 1970s when I first began my career as a journalist and my writing has always been geared toward publication. My own handwriting is so scrawled and my hand so lazy that I need the computer to make sense of my thoughts. Thank you for asking!

Susan G. Weidener said...

Thank you, Kathy. I felt inspired by your story. You brought a unique set of skills, perspectives and talents - but most of all "a listening and heartfelt ear" to our Circle. Please Come back soon!

kathleen pooler said...

Dear Sherrey,

I wish you could have been with us to share in the magic of the Circle! Regarding your question of handwritten vs computer journaling,I think it boils down to individual preference. Amber Starfire actually conducted an informal study in 2011 on this very issue. About 12 of us participated. We had to try both methods throughout week and report our findings. Although I prefer using the computer when I write, when it came to journaling and free write, pen and paper seemed to work better for me. The conventional wisdom says that there is a deeper connection of mind an body when we put pen to paper. When I used pen and paper , I came up with a story about my father that ended up in a blog post. I know there are journaling software programs available that some people swear by. I have never used them so I cannot speak to their effectiveness. I know this is a long-winded response but does that answer your question?

kathleen pooler said...

Dear Susan,

I'd come back "In a Heartbeat" :-)

Candice said...

Thanks Susan for connecting with Kathleen and creating this journaling workshop. Maybe I shouldn't admit it, but I originally signed up for the workshop to hang out with all of my writing peeps. In the end I met a few new writers and learned how journal writing can be a fantastic jumping off point.


Unknown said...

This workshop was a great experience! It was a nice balance of interactive sharing, presentation, dedicated writing time and reading our writing. I really broadened my thinking about how to approach journal writing, what can live in that very personal space and how it might develop from raw material into nuggets for finished pieces. Thank you to Susan and Kathleen and to my fellow participants for your generous gift.