Greta Solomon is a London-based author, speaker and creative writing coach. She works with businesses, brands and bloggers who want to better learn to express themselves through writing. In the wake of her new book launch, I’m delighted to feature her tips on writing for wellness at any age.
Three ways to journey beyond journaling and find your true creative self-expression
I met the lovely Nia when she attended a Writing for Creative Self-Expression workshop that I held last year at The Goddess Space, in London. Along with seven other women we shared experiences, fears, hopes and dreams. We excavated writing blocks. We laughed a lot. We drank a LOT of camomile and honey tea. But ultimately it was about me sharing practical tools you can use before, during and after you write anything.
In fact, I used these tools (and more) to write my soon-to-be-released book Heart, Soul & Sass: Write Your Way to a Fully-Expressed Life. It’s available for pre-order until 15 May with some fab bonuses – including a spot in my online workshop and a coaching session with me (visit here to check these out). So, in celebration of all this, I’d like to share three key self-expression tools with you.
Get out of your head
Getting into your body helps you switch off a chattering mind – so that you can access your heart space and write freely and easily. Things you can do include:
- Walking, showering, chopping vegetables, or taking a solo drive. These are things that allow ideas and thoughts to spontaneously bubble up.
- Writing in longhand can also help you to access the right brain, or artist’s brain as it’s also called.
- Grabbing your phone and using it to write on the go. Go for a walk and type all your thoughts into your phone. Then email them to yourself and play around with them the next time you’re back at your computer.
Awaken your senses
In the wellness world, lots of us have been told to journal, and rightly so. The written word is a recognised form of therapy. Stream-of-consciousness writing can unravel negativity, as can writing down what we’re grateful for. In fact, therapists have found that writing can ease pain and boost the immune system.
But many people still feel less than creative while journaling, which stops them from getting the most out of it. Use object writing to harness your creativity. Invented by Pat Pattison, it’s a tool borrowed from songwriting, that allows heart-centred writing to happen naturally. It involves taking an object and writing about it using only your seven senses. So, you look at – or imagine – the object and focus on what you can see, hear, touch, taste and smell, the movement of the object and how you feel about it. You then do this in short bursts of 90 seconds, five minutes or 10 minutes, keeping your hand moving across the page at all times. Start with something tangible, like a piece of fruit and don’t stop to judge yourself or correct anything.
Object writing ought to feel fun, and flowy. Plus, every time my clients do it, they’re amazed at the spontaneous metaphors and interesting imagery they create. So, this not only opens you up, but helps you write better too!
Put humour into your words
My first, post-graduation, job in Fashion PR in 1999 at the age of 22, was always a sore spot for me. I simply didn’t fit in, in the swanky world of high fashion and was thoroughly uncomfortable for three months, before I jumped ship and went on to find a job I loved at a magazine. For years though, just the mere mention of that time, and that job, made me a little queasy. It was such an incredibly stressful experience.
And then, last year, I wrote a humorous and heartfelt article about my experience in that job that I published in the Huffington Post. In doing so, I took control of my narrative, by transmuting it into something that lived outside the realms of my mind. It was an uplifting piece, and the process of writing and publishing it, and responding to comments about it took away the sting.
You can do the same by focusing on the details on what you’re writing about. Humour comes from being super specific. So, in my piece I wrote about things such as the time my colleagues and I accidentally wrote ‘King regards’ instead of ‘Kind regards’ on an email and walked around all day on eggshells, expecting a dressing down from our boss. And how when a leading fashion editor came to the office she was ‘dripping in diamonds’, and it was as though she was ‘floating on the ether’.
I challenge you to do this too – to make art out of life and transmute your stings into something else. Hone your senses, use my tips to get out of your mind, and write about the things that make you come alive.
Greta Solomon is an author, creative writing coach, business writing trainer and former journalist for British newspapers and magazines. She is the author of Just Write It! How to Develop Top-Class University Writing Skills (McGraw-Hill, 2013) and the forthcoming book Heart, Soul & Sass: Write Your Way to a Fully-Expressed Life (pre-order it at https://publishizer.com/heart-soul-sass/ until 15 May to get some fab bonuses). She lives in South West London with her husband and daughter. Greta runs creative writing workshops for bloggers and the business world, and coaches people to bring their own books to life.