Personal Writing is Rarely Just About the End Product

Personal Writing is Rarely Just About the End Product

 

Personal writing is rarely just about the end product. It’s a process. And that process can be a real gift, requiring deep thought and reflection. Yes, it often comes with challenges and surprises, but it’s a bit like going fishing. You never know what you’re going to find. (Or what finds you!) Even the difficult parts of life, when written about, take on different hues, and allow you to look from a different perspective.

My two memoirs have been about powerful personal experiences: one in a war zone, the other accompanying my mother with dementia. I might have thought I was writing about human rights, or breaking down barriers about dementia. But looking back, I realise I was just trying to make sense of it all — of the madness of life.

That’s why I encourage people who are thinking about writing — perhaps daring themselves to give it a go — to dive in. It’s not so much the end product as the process of writing that’s the real gift.

Over the years I’ve been contacted by quite a few people wanting to write part of their own story, but wondering where to start. Here’s my suggested strategy — three questions to ask yourself.

  1. If you were to choose six parts of your life to write about (they could be events, experiences, life stages, transitions, or times when you learnt something significant) what would they be?
  2. Why do you now feel the urge to write? Is it because you promised yourself you would before your turned, 30, 50 or 75? Perhaps you want to hand stories down to family members. Or to reflect on your journey so far? Is it to tell the story of others through your own eyes? Or to let your creative self flourish and see what emerges?
  3. Who would you like the audience for your writing to be? Are you writing for anyone in particular? Or just for yourself? Would you like your prose or poetry to be published?

Once you’ve answered the questions, start thinking about those six things you’ve chosen to write about. Then pick up a pen or tap away at the keyboard. It’s fine to only write a paragraph on each. Or pages.

Then put it all down and leave it for a bit. Unless you just can’t stop writing. Then, come back to what you’ve written. Is there one part that stands out? Is there a common thread? What would you like to replace or add?

This might give you an idea of what you really want to write about. Or at least give you a starting point.

And remember, rather than pressuring yourself to write a bestseller, write with freedom. No one is watching.

You never quite know what’s going to happen once you start on your own personal writing adventure. Be brave, be creative, and allow the  story to emerge.

Go for it!

Michele

ps for those who say they can’t write, then speak it, record it, and get hold of some technology that can type it for you.

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Text and Image © Michele Gierck

Photo at Peggy’s Cove, Canada