I’m writing this entry from an old stone house on the grounds of a Trappistine Monastery.
I am living with four other women writers (not the nuns) on a six day writing retreat lead by Rae Bird. Our days are filled with hours of writing and hiking on the 500 acres of exquisite rolling hillsides surrounded by cows and silence. I learned today that bulls are territorial of their cows, so don’t walk too close! He snorted and gave me a warning charge–enough to stop my heart and give me something exciting to write about.
In the evenings, we meet to read our entries to each other for feedback. It sounds so simple yet much needed by women.
I know a writing retreat may not be possible for everyone, but I think more happiness and clarity can be created by writing about our hopes and dreams, our doubts and fears. Writing or journaling can be like moving the 800 pound gorilla off our chest. Sometimes we just have things to say, but either no one is there to listen, or we don’t want anyone else to know what we’re thinking and feeling. In that way, writing is cathartic, but it can also be a means of collecting our family history.
I’m suggesting that each day be a mini-retreat when we begin writing our thoughts and memories, not necessarily for publication but just so that our unique history & stories are made permanent. Write about how you feel, who you’ve loved (and hated), your thoughts on politics, traveling, foods you love, children you raised or didn’t raise, how you spend your days.
Writing To Do List:
- Write every day, even for 5-10 minutes for a start. Set a timer, don’t stop writing no matter what, and don’t edit. Just listen to the voice inside and write.
- Create a memoir folder on your computer or in spiral notebooks as you collect your family history pieces.
- Form a writing group. Write and then read to each other.
- Read books that help you tell your soul’s story: I recommend Writing Down the Bones (about free writing) and Old Friend From Far Away (about writing memoir) by Natalie Goldberg. Writing from Life by Susan W. Albert will also give you a jumpstart in telling your stories.
- Read blogs about writing well, such as Write to Done
I’d love to hear any ideas that have helped you write.
You are welcome to reprint, copy, or distribute Lenora Boyle’s article, provided author credit is included.