If you're a writer, then you'll know the magic power writing has. Be it the creation of far flung worlds and fantastical creatures or the healing powers of journaling and memoir. Author member Cassie Farren, explains how powerful writing can be. She also asks the question can writing a memoir change your life?
Can Writing a Memoir Change Your Life?
If you had to summarize your life in one sentence it may go something like this, “Well, that didn’t go to plan!” There have been unexpected twists and turns along the way. There have been people and situations that have pushed you to your limits. You may have come close to breaking, but you are not broken.
One of the best things about your past is that it’s in the past. It is now just a story. I don’t say ‘just’ to belittle what you have been through, but when you can see your past as a story it will begin to diminish its hold over you.
How do I know?
Hitting Rock Bottom
I was at a crossroads in my life in 2012 after my life had hit rock bottom for the second time. I was a single parent to two children from different fathers, we had lost our house, started our life again and we and had no financial resources.
All I wanted was to be a role model to my children, but in reality, I felt like a failure as a mother. I had worked in full-time and part-time employment and after being made redundant I was working in a networking marketing business, but I wasn’t making enough money to make ends meet. I felt lost, alone and afraid of what the future held.
Taking a Step Forward
Out of desperation I paid for a coaching session and hoped to gain some much-needed clarity on how to move my life forward. The coach asked me a lot of questions and concluded our session by telling me to write down everything that had happened in my life so far and that everything would become apparent.
My first thought was that she had gone crazy! How on earth was writing about my messed-up life going to give me clarity? Despite my doubts I did my homework. That evening I opened a new Word document, I began to write and I also began to cry. I allowed the tears and my words to flow, completely unaware that this day would become the beginning of a whole new chapter in my life, literally.
The Girl Who Refused to Quit
Three months after our call on January 10th 2013 I set up my own business with nothing more than sheer determination, hope and a Facebook page. I continued to write my story and in December 2014 I proudly published my first book, The Girl Who Refused to Quit.
There are many people who can’t bear to speak about their past, so why would you want to write about it?
Your Memoir is so Much More Than a Book
I was reading an interesting article written by Emily Esfahani Smith, author of The Power of Meaning, who suggests that what makes our time on earth worthwhile is not chasing happiness but giving life meaning.
This is Emily’s definition of meaning;
“Meaning is always about connection, and about contributing to something greater than yourself. It’s about loving other people and placing yourself at their service. The more you can forget yourself in the process, the greater your power to connect and to contribute, the more meaningful your life will be.”
When I read Emily’s definition, I had a huge epiphany. I believe that the meaning of life is to give your life meaning. How can you do this? By writing your memoir.
When you share the story of your life you will see how every single event and experience has led you to be where you are today. You will understand clearly how your past, present and future all connect together.
See Everything in a New Perspective
When we repeat stories from our past in our heads they can play out in a way which can sometimes give them a lot more power than they deserve. The feelings that can arise from this can lead to anger, guilt, and anxiety to name a few. When you write these stories down there is distance between you and the story. Reading your words on the page gives your story much less power than when it was spinning around in your head.
There are going to be emotions that arise and come to the surface as a result of sharing your personal experiences, but I see this overall as positive. I have cried many tears whilst writing but I know that acknowledging these emotions have helped me to release anger, guilt and shame that were hiding away for many years.
Make Peace With Your Past
There was a time when I couldn’t have spoken about my past without a lump forming in my throat or a knot tightening in my stomach. Over the last few years I have spoken about my life story in front of many audiences, as well as on live radio broadcasts. I am often credited for my emotional strength and resilience, I know a huge part of this is due to writing my memoir.
This is my life philosophy; Do not allow the ghosts from your past to steal the happiness from your future.
Your ghosts are not just people. They are the beliefs, emotions and fears that are holding your prisoner in your own life. They no longer serve you.
I believe it is your responsibility to let go of your ghosts. It’s time to stop allowing them to haunt your mind. When you find the courage to let go of your old story and accept that your past does not define you, that is when you have reached a point of acceptance and you’ve made peace with your past.
This is a priceless gift you give to yourself.
Yes, you need courage. Yes, you need confidence. Yes, you need commitment. But I am living proof that you can do this. Publishing my memoir has not only changed many of my readers lives but without a doubt it has also changed mine and my children’s. If you have that knowing that your story needs to be told then my advice is to let your heart lead the way, take a deep breath and take the first step.
You too can write a life-changing book.
OVER TO YOU
Do you think writing a memoir can change your life? Have you ever journaled to help yourself heal or process emotions?
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