Write for Your Life
A virtual writing workshop and guide for a spiritual writing practice
To my great delight over many years I’ve helped people develop a spiritual writing practice – synagogue members from Portland to Portland; Afghan and Palestinian communal leaders lakeside at Seeds of Peace; women activists from across the FSU gathered together in Vitebsk; rabbis and rabbinical students of all stripes – and now you.
Begin by buying yourself one of those old-fashioned hardcover black-and-white marbled composition notebooks at a twenty-first century version of the corner five-and-dime – the kind of notebook you remember from third grade, every fall walking to school, crunching the leaves under foot, your heart stirring at the hope of new beginnings…
The hard cover means you can sit with it on your lap anywhere, don’t need a desk, just sit and write – the original “laptop”! I also love these notebooks because they’re cheap and therefore not threatening – even for me, a well-published writer, those exquisitely beautiful journals people buy you as gifts I can find threatening – I can’t guarantee that what I write will be as wonderful as the notebook itself, I’m afraid of spoiling it, ruining it – an invitation to writer’s block! With a notebook I paid less than a buck for, I feel comfortable, not intimidated.
So, journal in hand – and why write by hand? In my experience, it connects us much more deeply to the heart, to the authentic, to the unexpected. Computers are great because they go faster, faster; this writing though is all about slower, slower…
Find a quiet private place and arrange not to be disturbed. We're all way too busy, but everyone has 10-minute pockets in the day that they can claim for themselves. You'll be amazed how deep a 10-minute experience of writing can be…
This journal is an opportunity, a possibility for opening, a way to record the journey of your days – days ordinary and days extraordinary. A way to better see and explore inner worlds. As often as you can, daily even, use it to give yourself the gift of quiet time, solitary time, time to find the silent places within and to listen carefully.
Listen to yourself as you listen to the people you most dearly love: with rapt attention and tenderness, curiosity, compassion. And then let the stories, your thoughts and feelings, tumble onto the page. Relax, and let the details of special moments return to you as you write. Above all, a writing practice is about process, the process of making a connection to yourself. As the process unfolds, you discover that developing a writing practice can offer the rich reward of feeling accompanied in precisely the ways we may otherwise feel painfully alone. Blessings to you on your journey!
I have developed various entrees to writing – most recently a virtual discussion/writing guide for Longing with prompts to help you explore many of the poems of the book as companions to your own experiences and relationships. Two discussion/writing guides will be offered: a one-session exploration of overall themes of the book; and a second, in-depth resource with prompts for each of the seven sections of the book. (Both available soon online through CCAR Press.)
A similar resource may be found in my book A Spiritual Life: Exploring the Heart and Jewish Tradition (SUNY Press, revised edition 2007) in the last chapter, A Readers’ and Writers’ Guide. That chapter provides a way of writing by engaging with different themes of the poems and stories in ASL – a very rich experience and one you can try on your own, in a formal adult ed class, or just informally with a group of friends for a special evening of intimate sharing.
Finally, visit Derekh.org for the program, Writing in the Paradigm of Prayer.
© Merle Feld 2011 Writing for Your Life materials – All rights reserved.