I interviewed myself today! A friend asked me the first question, and I just kept going. This as a writing technique I recommend you all to try — interview yourself! It will help bring you to so the same point I will be making throughout this reading that everyone should write a book.
Well, personally, yes, I do think everyone should write a book! But of course, I’m biased! I’ve seen the benefits of the writing process since I was a teenager, when putting my thoughts, fears, successes, failures in my diary gave me an instant inside story to my mind.
I could see how my mind travelled — how fears were followed to their origins, the dots were connecting of how this event led to that seemingly unrelated one, and I would watch nightmares morph into my best poetry in my morning writings.
Later Julia Cameron, in her famous book, The Artist’s Way, coined the term “Morning Pages,” and millions of people across the planet found out first hand just how powerful a daily writing practice can be.
I teach stream of consciousness writing — the kind where you just “let the writing do the writing,” where you’re not judging and planning and critiquing what you want to say. This kind of writing allows you to access the unconscious mind, and you begin to truly know yourself.
When I write, I feel that there is a benevolent presence sitting beside me, guiding my hand across the page or keyboard. I can’t explain it, but the words just come tumbling out of my fingers from a source I can only call God, words I cannot seem to reach otherwise. They release the muse out of her secret kingdom to alchemize ideas into creative offerings that flow out in myriad ways. Sometimes it’s poetry, sometimes, prose, books, song lyrics, stage plays, short stories . . . Who wouldn’t want access to all that goodness?
But people aren’t always able to discover this on their own if they’ve had their writing or anything else criticized as kids — when they were putting their best efforts onto the page and a teacher red-penned everything:“You should have said it this way.” “You spelled that wrong.” “That idea is impossible, why would you say that?” and then their own mind tightened the grip from there.
That person probably never wants to write again, or they become mute. Or if they do ever summon the courage to write, they often judge it as being awful before it even hits the page, or they mutilate it with their harsh opinions afterwards.
I firmly believe that everyone should write a book. The 8-step process is where you learn to let go of all those critical voices and keep your hand moving across the page. Sure, there are techniques to employ later when crafting a piece, but the most profound writing comes when you step out of the way and allow what’s been meaning to come out to simply come out. To let your true authentic voice have its say before you cover it over with what you think would be socially acceptable to some random critic in your head to whom you are still giving away your power.
For 20 years, students who come to my Sunday writing circles – who have been afraid to write for eons — cannot believe what comes out of them from one twenty-minute writing prompt. With genuine bewilderment, they declare, “Where on earth did that come from?” “I didn’t even know I felt that way, I am amazed!” “I just got the biggest aha!” . . . and on and on it goes. They genuinely like or even love what they wrote — and I get the biggest joy of all, witnessing a new writer emerge.
If they want to know their mind, they should. If they want to understand their relationships and bring clarity to their life stories, they should. If they want to find out how creative they are, they should. And most important of all, if they harbour a dream to write a book, and the dream doesn’t go away, then of course they should, because it’s their soul’s calling.
Also, if they have people telling them for years that they should write a book, and it resonates true for them, then it behooves them to honour that truth instead of laughing it off, only to regret years later that they never did it. The worst is, dare I say, that they are on their deathbed, when it’s too late to mend any regrets.
I adore working with my book writing clients because even though they may have fears and resistance going on, they do it anyway — and before long, their fears are channelled into writings that go out in the world, and the next thing I know, they’re offering me an autographed copy of their published book!
It’s through this evidence that I’ve seen over and over again that I birthed my motto: “Your soul meets you on the page and something shifts. You strengthen, you begin to stand taller, and one day you notice that your voice on the page has become your voice in the world.”
Finally, there are countless rewards in writing a book! That’s why I wrote one called Your Life Matters – 8 Simple Steps to Writing Your Story. And that book, my dear, will tell you all the reasons why one should write their own.
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PS — If you haven’t yet read Your Life Matters – 8 Simple Steps to Writing Your Story, you can easily get yourself a copy at your favourite online bookstore (links at the bottom of this page). And if reading the book makes you want to get coaching from me to give you a boost and get your book written now, well, your timing is great, because my coaching program, Your Life Matters Author Mentorship Program, is open for enrolment right now!
We start on April 6, 2021, and we run for 10 weeks. It’s online, with live coaching calls so that you can get my eyes on your book, and encouragement from a small group of people all working towards the same goals. Why not get your application in now and we can talk about it?
Let me ask you something. It might sound strange coming from me, but do you hate writing? Does the mere thought of it make you cringe? Do you ever wonder how it is that so many people seem to actually enjoy the process? They talk about their journals as if they’re the Holy Grail! Do you ask yourself, what do they actually get from it and if it’s so great, why is it so distasteful to you? If so, you’re not alone! Here are 8 reasons why some people would rather do anything but write:
One of the most common reasons is because they were shamed in school. Their essays or short stories got marked up with red pens—they weren’t in the right order, their grammar was poor, and so on. They learned that in order to write, they had to do it perfectly. Imagine toddlers saying their first words and being criticized for not pronouncing them correctly! Yes it’s ludicrous, but that’s what happens to children when they write their imaginative stories for the first time and they get ripped to shreds. Mark Twain said, “If we taught our children to speak the way we teach them to write, everyone would stutter.” Many adults are still plagued with shame from their youth for not doing it right.
If you have had an experience like that, throw out the rules and write about it. Write an angry blaming letter to the teacher or whoever it was that put you down. Get it out of your system. You are not what that person said about you. Feel compassion for your younger self and let her/him have their day in court! Let go of perfection and go for the jugular! Don’t be surprised at what might get released in this one piece. Note: this letter is not to be sent!
Everyone judges themselves and others. Often the judgment comes from those described above who shamed us in the first place, and we end up thinking we can never do anything write. Oops, I meant “right.” See? Judging ourselves is the biggest crippler in our lives. “How can I think that? It’s not nice of me.”
While writing, if we’re afraid of our angry, less-than-loving thoughts, we’ll want to cover them over with flowery words, make it sound pretty and poetic. We may succeed. It may sound poetic. But it won’t be authentic and we won’t reach the deeper parts of us that want a voice. That part may be angry, frustrated and rebellious or somewhere between bored and apathetic because of our betrayal of her/him. Whatever s/he is, there’s deeper energy inside awaiting expression. Follow it compassionately. This is what the page is for.
Right now I am feeling….
This can be a legitimate fear when you’re writing a journal or anything else you’ve written. You want to protect its sacredness. Our writings are our babies. Protecting them is protecting your most innocent, creative voice. Besides, if you think someone may be reading what you’ve written, it will inhibit what you write. In your journals you can write on the front page, “Please do not read this. Put it down. It is personal.” Or, if you prefer, write, “Read at your own risk!”
Don’t leave your writing on your coffee table. If you do, you might as well surrender to the fact that it’s probably going to happen. And if it does, can you really blame that person? After all, you’ve opened up the temptation. Of course you can share it with whomever you like. But here’s the key: Be discerning. You don’t want to share it with someone whose approval you’re looking for. Share your fledgling pieces with people whom you trust and who support you.
Do not leave your journal on the coffee table!
An amazing number of people won’t write because they’re not good spellers and feel embarrassed and feel the same way about punctuation, grammar and style. Stream of conscious thought doesn’t care if you can’t spell, you don’t use grammatically correct speech or punctuation. Or use any punctuation at all. Me bee in countree hole bunch long time. I bet you understood that. Do I really care if it’s not written well or it’s got a bunch of spelling mistakes? No, I don’t. And I don’t want you to either. Not during the creative process. Find an editor later. Creativity demands that you do not try to stop it with rules. Kids paint outside the lines. We get to write outside the margins if you know what I mean.
Deliberately write a few sentences with bad grammar, spell things wrong even when you can spell them right and at the end of it, have a good laugh. It’s not that serious, right? Remember that during the creative process. Laugh when you can’t spell something instead of judging it. Your judge will throw away the pen and you’ll inevitably go find a donut to munch on.
There’s always been an aura around the written word. It’s like a law or contract that can’t be changed. “Gee, I wrote it this way so how can I say it that way now?” Well, you can. That’s poetic license. It’s also being human. We change our thoughts, our minds, our perceptions as we learn and grow. You can write something and stand by it today and change it tomorrow if it no longer resonates with your truth.
The irony is, as soon as we write the truth of where we are in the moment, the energy shifts and allows for another truth to seep in. We’re not frozen in our fury, for example. Most often once we’ve spilled it all onto the pages, we hit a deeper emotion—hurt, for example. We discover that under the rage lies a hurt inner child who hasn’t had his or her needs met. With this awareness we can then do some nurturing—we can write ourselves a love letter. Sometimes this process takes several days. You may just need to stay with the anger for a while. Write it out and let it rest on the page. Read it out loud so you can feel the full impact of your feelings. Then go do something physical. Go for a walk. Turn on some up-beat music, dance. Exercise. Breathe. Get the endorphins flowing. And feel proud that you have released what you’ve been wanting to say for weeks!
Allow your writing to teach you things. Learn as you write. Grow as you learn. Let it be a progression, not a fact. There is an endless well of wisdom that can come to us from invisible places that the pen just seems to know how to locate. Nothing’s written in stone. And if it is, eventually someone will pick up the stone and skip it in the water and something new will get invented in its place. It’s called creativity, imagination, and freedom!
Sometimes not knowing where to begin can seem like an insurmountable task. Just begin to write where you are. Describe where you are, your environment, the colours, the sounds, the people, or lack of them, and let this be a beginning. Or give your editor a voice: if it’s saying “I don’t have anything to say…” write that. Write it again and again. Eventually it will change. Stay with it and stay focussed on your intention. At the same time keep your hand moving across the page.
The last time I had nothing to say, I…
Writing takes you into the deeper recesses of your mind, turning over the soil of the unconscious and bringing light to what’s been buried for a long time. If there are things you don’t want to face, don’t want to deal with, you will avoid writing about them because the truth usually surfaces and makes you look at it. Don’t be afraid. Be curious instead. When you stay with it and write to the other side, you will gain clarity, answers, healing and release.
What I want you to know about me is… (you are writing this to yourself… it’s about you getting to know yourself) ☺
You’re afraid to do anything because you’re always comparing yourself to others. You’ll never get the novel, play, article, song published. “So and so graduated at the same time as me and they’re already way ahead and even famous. It’s stupid to even bother.” Comparing ourselves is very damaging because it stops us from moving forward. We ask ourselves the wrong questions, and so we get the wrong answers. We say, “How come she can do it?” or say, “No wonder he’s successful; he has a rich father”, instead of asking ourselves, “What are my goals and what can I do today towards them?”
Take one writing project that you have on the go—or want to have—and get to it! There are no tricks. Just roll up your sleeves and write. Once you have started, you will know the sheer joy of moving forward and it will motivate you to come back tomorrow and the next day and the next day after that. And when you get stuck, write your truth about it in your journal. It will free you and you’ll be able to continue.
If you haven’t been writing and the above reasons don’t apply to you, or you have other reasons why you are stuck, please tell us your reasons below. If I can help you find a solution, and it’s likely that I will, you’ll be writing again in no time!
Victoria Premiere Screening of Madness, Masks and Miracles
followed by a discussion
Sunday, December 11, 2011 6:45 p.m.
Truth Centre, 1201 Fort Street, Victoria, BC
Join June Swadron, Victoria writer, actor, playwright, psychotherapist and author of Re-Write Your Life, in an evening of exploring the link between creative expression and wellness for people living with a mental illness. Continue Reading
In my last newsletter, the tip I offered was to buy yourself a special journal.
Today, being the 10th anniversary of 9/11, I’m going to share some personal entries that I wrote in my journal on September 11th, 2001.
I had set that day aside to write an article for Vancouver’s Common Ground magazine. The theme for October was WRITING and the deadline was approaching fast.
I believe what you will read below will demonstrate the reliable and undeniable value of putting pen to paper when your heart is flooded with emotion.
“If you did not write every day, the poisons would accumulate and you would begin to die, or act crazy or both – you must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” –Ray Bradbury
Tuesday, September 11, 2001
I woke up with good intentions today to write an article about how writing can be used as a profound therapeutic tool—how it can help us move from pain to catharsis. It’s something I know well. I’ve been using writing to help me work things out since I was given my first diary at age 8. Over four decades ago, journaling wasn’t in vogue like it is today, so I learned of its value through usage. Also, I have been eyewitness to the many transformations borne out of this medium through facilitating creative/cathartic writing groups for over 10 years. I also frequently use it as a relevant tool with my psychotherapy clients. It’s a subject I know well and feel confident to write about. Not today.
Instead I have spent this day like thousands of others—in shock. I woke early this morning—day eleven on my newly acquired piece of paradise—in a cottage set in the spacious woods of Bowen Island and overlooking the gulf islands, mountains and ocean.
In these several days I have watched eagles flying gracefully over my home, herons resting on my dock; earlier today, a hummingbird came to visit my hanging geranium and a bluebird began singing to me from the fir tree next to my bedroom window.
And from this peace and paradise, still I woke with a heavy heart. I wasn’t sure of its origin but knew I needed to connect with someone—someone very close to me. I called my friend Dale who instantly and sensitively revealed to me what was going. I let the tears flow as she described the gruesome details. The very next thing I did was e-mail my partner, who just a week ago, flew to Korea, to take a contract there. I needed to tell him of my horror and how grateful I am that he has landed safely and is not on a plane en route. I spent the rest of the day in silent prayer, grief, fury and questioning God. Why? But I haven’t heard any answers. And so I didn’t come to the computer to write that article, which has a close deadline, and I’m not writing it now—at least not the way I thought I would. Instead I do what I do when I need to release. I write what is there in front of me—I simply tell the truth…
I was on my dock a little while ago. I took a candle and the meditation prayer that was e-mailed to me earlier in the day by the people who put on the Prophet’s Conference. They asked that we join them in a unified prayer—to pray for those who passed on, for their families and friends and for us all upon earth; to pray for those who orchestrated this event, so that they are filled with peace instead of fear and anger and to pray for the politicians—that they act from divine wisdom and not revenge. This is a time to move away from blame and seek to understand cause. Caesar, my black cat and the most affectionate and wise creature I have ever known, followed me down to the dock to bring his energy into the fold. Together we meditated for world peace.
I don’t think I wanted to blame. I wanted to help—to make a contribution to the lives of those who are suffering. Here I am in this incredible God given sanctuary while at the very same time, thousands of people have just died, perhaps are still dying—being buried under rubble—and thousands of families and friends of these people are in grief and disbelief.
I remembered years ago during the Gulf War how isolated I felt—how alone while watching television from my living room and watching bombs flying through the air ready to land on who knows what target. A decade earlier I had spent the year in Israel, arriving there during the Yom Kippur War. I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to do something now, today. I called people to hold a vigil at my house at sundown. They will arrive shortly. Perhaps our unified prayers will help. They will help me, I know.
Tuesday, September 18, 2001
A week has passed since I originally came to my computer to write about writing. I have been unable to until now. I have been involved with my world—walking around numb, anxious, strong, vulnerable, and above all, once again grateful to feel – to be alive. I have been e-mailing back and forth to many friends. I have been the recipient of dozens of e-mails sent by spiritual leaders. Each message holds the same Divine Truth—we must elevate our energy to our highest self at this time—and not be seduced into fear.
And these writings and my own journal have once again, served as my best friend. My partner and I are 15 hours apart and thousands of miles away and we can’t speak in real time very often. My journal is there right now, when I need it—a constant and reliable companion. It plays witness to my tears, remorse, anguish, uncertainly, and to my gratitude. It has seen it all. It judges nothing. How does it work? It works because I tell the truth. It works because I release what needs expression.
Sometimes I think it’s too simple. But then I realize that’s exactly why it’s so powerful. Writing from where we are right now puts us in the state of being authentic, which frees the energy to move. It is liberating to express ourselves. It is a letting go process that allows us to breathe ourselves back home.
As we spill onto the pages what is pertinent in the moment, neither embellishing, nor denying, simply stating it the way it is, we free ourselves from confusion and false voices. We may be flooded with emotion as we impart our truth onto the page—sadness, grief, rage, excitement, love, joy. Allow it all to unfold, to gently come forth. Don’t force it—it’s there. You needn’t strive—it’s there. Just allow the words to come. Don’t judge. Don’t go into your head and say this sounds too awful, this doesn’t make sense, what if someone sees it; just write. Edit later if you must. But for now, just be kind to yourself and do not stop the flow. Do it that way and you’ll be astounded by the results. It’s the energy of now that carries the might. Even when you’re writing about something that happened twenty years ago—it’s your relationship to it at this very moment that matters. And your writing will show you what matters even when you yourself are not sure because the truth will always emerge as you ask your ego to step out of the way.
I believe each of us needs a private place where we can express ourselves without censorship, without judgment, without someone telling us it’s wrong, impolite, unforgiving or anything else. Each of us needs somewhere to state our truth at any given moment and know it’s completely safe to do so. And to express the written word without fear of doing it wrong—a place to put all the old grammar books away.
Still the most common element I have seen over the years in my writing classes is the lack of confidence people have in themselves. Their fear of doing it wrong and saying it wrong surfaces again and again. They qualify their writing.—“Well, I was tired, so I don’t really think it’s very good.” “I was confused and…” or “I had a terrible day today and…” Then they are encouraged to read it anyway, and are often astounded by what they wrote. So if you find yourself criticizing yourself, don’t get discouraged. It’s normal. Just keep your pen moving across the page. Eventually you won’t care if it’s good or bad, right or wrong, you will just write. You will stop being attached to the outcome. You simply write. And that’s when it becomes a meditation. That’s when it becomes a way of life. That’s when it becomes as natural as getting up and brushing your teeth. And when writing is that for you, you will notice a shift in your life. You will notice that things are working out better. You will observe that the voice on the page becomes your voice in the world. Even if you change your mind about what you say a few days later and a new truth emerges, that’s okay. In fact, that’s what happens when we write from our authenticity. The truth sets us free. We move the energy around instead of staying stuck in it. We find a healthier, newer way to relate to the situation. Clarity emerges. Life energy emerges. Strength, confidence and self-love emerge and as you continue to write, you will begin to achieve things that you never thought possible. Your journals can and will be the starting-off point to poems, plays, song lyrics whatever. But mostly you will have your voice. And that… is worth every word.”
And ten years later, my journal is still my best friend. I never know what will emerge on the page. But what I do know is when I allow myself to go naked, my soul feels reborn.
Please do not miss the opportunity of joining me and like-minded others on Saturday September 17th, for a fabulous one-day writing retreat! BY DONATION.
More info at
Write Yourself Home
Once again it’s almost fall and time for brand new beginnings.
I remember when I was a young teen in Toronto, the summer holidays seemed long and the hot, humid days felt almost interminable. My friends and I hung out in the park under the shade of the chestnut trees listening to our transistor radios. Later we’d check out the latest LPs or 45s—am I’m dating myself or what!—at Tommy Common’s Record Store and then we were off to Puppy Palace on Bathurst Street for cherry cokes and root beer. Oh how innocent we were!
Eventually summer came to an end and the day after Labour Day was the first day of school.
My most exciting memory of returning to school was when I had graduated from Public School to Junior High School. Instead of one classroom and one teacher all day long, we changed classes every 40 minutes and had different teachers for every subject. We were even given our very own lockers. Now that was cool!
I did very well that year. The best subject for me was English composition. I loved writing creative stories and I was lucky enough to have a teacher, Miss Gola, who encouraged me. She was one of the first teachers ever who complimented me on my writing and made me feel as though I could write. She gave me the confidence to keep exploring this medium which set me on a writing path that I could never have known back then.
Many people have not been so lucky. They had teachers who criticized their creative efforts, destroying their belief that they could ever write. Did you know that Mark Twain said, “If we taught our children to speak the way we teach them to write, everyone would stutter”. How painfully true that is. I hope today teachers help inspire and nurture the creative process in their students.
For 20 years now I have had the privilege of being a “Miss Gola” to countless people. Some were disheartened early in life and had let their creative dreams die in those darkened classrooms. I live in gratitude for having the privilege of watching people’s lives transform while they re-discover their voice on the page and their voice on the page soon becomes their voice in the world.
May this fall and all your new beginnings be blessed with the innocence, wonder and joyous spirit of a young child. Dare to explore wherever your heart leads you.