"Writing is a friend whose shoulder we can cry on..."
Julia Cameron, in her book The Right to Write, discussed how writers take life experiences and integrate them into their writing.
Have you used your writing to heal from life experiences? Have you used your writing to work through some issues? Has writing become a conduit for your emotions?
Should it be?
So what is integrating anyway?
Cameron calls it slowing down and allowing our life experiences to move or flow through us like movements in a symphony (p. 108).
I can see that happening.
Writing about teens battling the supernatural may not seem like a way to integrate my life experiences into my writing, but it can be. I find myself revisiting my high school years when I was strong in the Lord as well as my college years when I wasn't so strong in the Lord. I am working through those emotions to add attributes to my characters.
I can see how writing can allow healing and how it can cause pain.
Writing about loss, grief, and suffering can cause the writer to regress into those emotion once sealed off. But Cameron writes about how she used her writing to heal from the loss of a relationship. Writing can be that shoulder to cry on!
As in art, writing can be used to express oneself. I never did this with my art until I was in my late thirties. Art was always just a chance for me to escape, and not relive or dwell on life experiences.
My art teacher changed all that. He forced me to look back and revisit painful memories and express my feelings in my art.
This painting is the result:
Instead of painting the chaos that was around me when I was younger (my parent's second divorce from each other...) I chose to ignore it and just paint and draw "happy" things.
This painting is my way of using my art to integrate my life experiences.
Writing What You Feel
So, when I read what Cameron wrote in her book, I knew what she was talking about. We can use our writing to do the work of integrating. We can use it to create that wholeness.
Write out what you feel.
Write out what you wish for.
Write out how you've changed.
Write out what you cannot change.
Write out what you accept.
Yes, writing can be about integrating our life experiences to create that Gestalt...or that unified whole.
But most importantly...just write!
Your turn: How have you used writing to do the work of integrating your life experiences?