Storytelling is healing. As we reveal ourselves in story, we become aware of the continuing core of our lives under the fragmented surface of our experience. We become aware of the multifaceted, multichaptered ' I ' who is the storyteller. We can trace out the paradoxical and even contradictory versions of ourselves that we create for different occasions, different audiences... Most important, as we become aware of ourselves as storytellers, we realize that what we understand and imagine about whole.—Susan Wittig Albert
When I first started writing seriously, I had no idea that making up a story would lead to self-discovery. Of course I journaled during high school and college, filled dozens of spiral notebooks with melodramatic retellings of various events and my feelings about them. But that was more akin to whining or venting than true processing.
When I was in my mid-thirties, my grandmother passed away. One of the last things I remember her saying to me was “I’m afraid everyone will forget me.” After years of trying unsuccessfully to write, it was her words that gave me the nudge I needed. I started writing a story very loosely based on her youth, using bits and pieces of her history along with scraps from my own imagination, stitching them all into a quilt that unintentionally bared my feelings and perceptions about life. The more I wrote, the more I realized I was thrashing my way through all the assumptions about life and happiness I’d taken as gospel over the years.
Time and again, I’ve found my deepest beliefs and desires tucked between the lines, sliced thin and passed out to multiple characters to play out.
When we write with abandon, simply taking dictation from our imagination, from our subconscious, without attempting to alter or deny or pretty it up, we discover things about ourselves that otherwise might have remained buried. If you keep at it long enough, eventually you can stand back and see patterns changing, perceptions about life and the world opening up, coming unknotted, making sense, and sometimes finding resolution.
Write fiction or memoir, explore your past or make up a world for imaginary characters, write without restriction and see where it leads you.
"Writing isn't about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it's about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It's about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy." — Stephen King