Writing is like the multitool in my toolbox. I use it to make a living, of course. I’m a writer of fiction, most notably Herbalism for the Zombie Apocalypse, and a wide variety of non-fiction. The Practical Herbalist and The Practical Herbalist’s Herbal Folio Series bear my by line, for instance. I also write for Hunter Creation as a marketer and I help with Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This website is another example of writing to survive: It’s one of the pieces I can point to when prospective clients ask about my credentials.
Work and survival aside, writing helps me bring growth to my life. I use it for magical and self-transformative projects. Creative memoir, for instance, has helped me make sense of old patterns and pieces of story in my life. I’ve used Story Spinning to transform some of those old patterns. Writing fiction has helped me fashion new perspectives for situations that baffled me and journaling just plain clarifies my thinking. Sometimes, just spending time writing is like spending time in meditation.
The words flow.
I am rejuvenated.
Technical documentation and essays describing your insights can help you acquire and solidify new skills and knowledge. Writers, like teachers, need to be clear about the hows and whys before they pass on their skills to their students. Whether you intend to offer the pieces you’ve written to others or not, the act of writing them helps to create the clarity and expertise of a master.
Often, when I’m writing non-fiction, questions arise I hadn’t realized were even there. In this way, the act of writing brings to the surface of my consciousness what may have been murky or shows me where I’d been acting or moving without understanding why. Once I understand the whys of my subject matter, I own it. It becomes a part of me and my knowledge base. In this way, writing helps me learn more deeply.
At one point or another, many of us feel driven to pass on our stories and experience to others. The process of writing your memoirs can lift you to a higher perspective on the events you’re writing about. I’ve used these forms to help me make sense of and release old patterns.
Through writing essays and memoirs, I’ve gotten a better perspective on the patterns that were playing out in my life at the time. We’re all creatures of habit. The patterns we lived as children, for example, are likely to show up when we’re adults. Taking the time to write our stories, even if we never show them to anyone else, offers us the freedom to rise up and see the landscape of our lives, so to speak. From that vantage point, it’s a whole lot easier to recognize the forces that shaped your current life and behavior as well as to recognize which aspects of that no longer serve you.
I’ve found writing creative memoirs and essays helpful when I’ve wanted to make peace with old habits that just haven’t wanted to die, when I’ve been baffled by events or patterns that seem to keep on repeating no matter what I do, and when I’m struggling to make a change to the way I’m thinking about a situation or person but can’t seem to shift my thought patterns.
Creative memoir and essay are also a terrific way to pass on the stories of your life to friends, family, and loved ones, in a way that’s personal and rooted in a shared experience.
I started my first diary when I was around 8 or 10 years-old. I was afraid my sister would read it, so I wrote only what I figured she already knew or wouldn’t care much about. It wasn’t a lot, but it got me started on what has become a lifelong habit of journaling.
These days, I have two journals, one for ranting and unloading and one for remembering. Sometimes, the same story ends up in both. The act of ranting on the page is one writers have been using for a long time. It clears the mind and opens the creative channels so the real insights can flow. If an insight comes up while I’m ranting, I generally take the time to grab my other journal and record it.
I’ve used journaling to help me get through tough times, clear and calm my mind (sometimes just so I can sleep or get a story started), to hone journeying and dreamwork skills, and to help me remember and recognize the golden moments I’ve experienced. A few years ago, I took a two-year break from writing, but I journaled right on through. That was one of the clues that showed me I truly am a writer, even when I’m busy not-writing.
Fiction is just plain fun. It’s a place where you can let your imagination run free. Sometimes, the fiction I write feels cathartic, even if I think the story doesn’t resemble anything in my real life. Zombies, for instance, just don’t plague me, at least not right now, but sometimes when I’ve finished writing one of Zombie Hunter C’s essays, the emotions in it resonate more deeply or broadly than I’d expected. When that happens, it sometimes is like a light shining on my own emotional landscape. If I choose, I can use other writing or art techniques to explore that territory. Or, I can acknowledge the still-broken or scarred place I’ve uncovered and the emotions of that place that offered up their energy to help me create a moment in fiction that, with luck, will resonate with my readers as well.
Story spinning is a fiction-writing technique that crosses into the territory of Creative Memoir and Non-fiction at times. I sometimes use Story Spinning to make sense of or digest a situation and then reshape it to create a healthier, more balanced, or more positive outcome in my life. It’s a technique for applying fiction to real life that accesses a variety of shamanic realms and makes use of multimedia and art in addition to writing that offers up the opportunity for deep and meaningful transformation.
Books and Authors:
- Natalie Goldberg: Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within, 2nd Edition and Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir
- Steven Spielberg: On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft
- Blake Snyder: Save The Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need
- Susan Goldsmith: Poemcrazy: Freeing Your Life with Words
- Susan Shaughnessy: Walking on Alligators: A Book of Meditations for Writers
Groups and Centers for Learning: