We are hardwired for storytelling. It has been part of the human experience long before there was written language. It was the way in which people passed on information, cultural values and also entertained one another. And, if we listen closely, storytelling still offers this to us today.
When your grandmother tells a story about her early life – maybe the hardships she endured or the remembrance of how she and your grandfather fell in love – she is imparting the way she moved and lived in the world. She speaks of her fears, her courage, her vulnerability, her joy. You might identify with her, be affirmed by her experience, or possibly challenged. She is teaching you about Life when she shares her stories.
The kind of writing I ask of my coaching clients and retreat participants is really storytelling on paper. Sometimes I sense people’s reluctance to participate because many are not confident of their ability to communicate in writing. This even happens when I hold writing workshops where people have signed up to write!
Here’s what I often hear, and how I respond:
I don’t really have anything to say.
You’ve had experiences. You’ve had successes, failures; you’ve had joys and sorrows. Each has its own story. Your entire life is made up of a great collection of stories! You do have something to say.
But I really don’t know HOW to write. I’ve never been good at it.
If you can talk, you can write! Your writing can be as conversational as your voice. As a matter of fact, it should be. Because your voice, the WAY you say things, the manner in which you tell your story is uniquely YOU. And that is what I, and others, want to hear.
But my stories won’t mean anything to anybody but me.
This is where you are wrong. Your stories compile your moral/ethical will, which you can impart to your family, to anyone who listens to your stories. They compile the roadmap of your life and are part of society’s cultural heritage.
So get out your journal, a spiral notebook or even a pad of paper and begin to write your stories, experience by experience, in no particular order. Just write what comes to you. Even if you never share a single one with another person, you will be sharing them with your Self, affirming your life, the highs and lows, the happy times, as well as sad. Your own words can be a healing balm to your own heart.