The ocean had been calling to me for weeks. It’s the place where I get in touch with myself and experience clarity around what’s next. But after so much summer travel I couldn’t stomach another stay in a hotel. So on Sunday we made a one-day trip to Virginia Beach.
Even though I’ve lived in Charlottesville for ten years, this was my first day trip to the ocean. Under ideal conditions, it’s a three-hour drive, but traffic along the coast is rarely ideal.
For years, I nixed day trips, fearing we would get trapped in an hours-long traffic jam at the Chesapeake Bay tunnel. The worries were always the same. What if it takes five hours to get there? What if we get stuck in traffic on the way home? Would three hours of ocean time be worth ten hours on the road? From my armchair all I saw were obstacles.
Last weekend, I flipped that fear the bird and hopped in the car.
Happily, our trip was smooth as butter—no traffic, no problems finding a spot, no clouds.
While jumping ocean waves I thought about how often we impose unhelpful limits both on our lives and our writing projects—especially when we can’t see the way forward. Yet, when we ride the waves, everything gets easier, even if it takes effort to stay afloat.
The things that call to our soul are often the things that nourish us.
Writing is my sustenance. When I write, I feel complete. My days are easier. I smile more and sleep better. People say I’m more fun to be around. Writing has even improved my physical health.
Some people think catharsis, or the act of “getting it all out” is why personal writing is so therapeutic, but catharsis is only useful if we make meaning from our experiences.
Personal stories heal us when they settle the events weighing down our hearts and jacking up our nervous systems. To experience this benefit, we need to do more than craft great scenes. We must shape our experiences into meaningful arcs that tell the story of not just what happened, but how what happened transformed us. Then, and only then, do we reap these benefits.
As a coach, I’ve watched talented writers turn their deepest heartaches into artistically rendered scenes then spin their wheels around what it all means, and groan about the post-catharsis crash they didn’t know would follow. Disheartened, they allow fear to impose its limits. Some wonder if they should just quit. Others wallow in their doubts.
Witnessing and experiencing this struggle is why I created “Envisioning Your Memoir’s Narrative Arc: Five Tools that Will Help You Take Your Book from Draft to Done.” While we often think of “done” as ready to publish, it’s more than that. A complete story is settled inside us. Once it’s settled, everything else follows.
Over the past seven years, I’ve developed a systematic process that helps writers find their story’s meaning. I’ve watched writers who use this process become more confident, build better platforms, and eventually send emails that read, “I just sold my book.”
If you want to learn how this process can benefit your project, send me an email and I’ll let you sit in on tomorrow’s webinar. After that, you can decide whether Envisioning Your Memoir’s Narrative Arc is right for you.
Curious but not available tomorrow at 1:00 PM EDT? (That’s Wednesday, 9/7/22, in case you’re reading this later in the week.) No problem. The event will be recorded, so you can watch it at your leisure.
Whatever you decide, , promise to make time for your writing and the experiences that nourish you. When you see yourself imposing fear-based limits, challenge them by taking action.
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