Why me, why writing?
"If you sit next to me long enough I'll have you doing a writing exercise or two and finding out something new about yourself."
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m pretty evangelical about writing – a conversation barely goes by without it popping up – I can’t help it! Writing to process, organise and make sense of myself and the world has been life changing for me and I want to help other people to see how it can help them to live a better, easier and more enjoyable life – something I don’t think is too much to ask for.
Here’s my story about how writing changed my life and how it can change yours too.
For a long time I was very lost, in a corporate job I had no connection to – a project and planning manager in a global firm.
I didn’t know quite how I’d got there. It definitely wasn’t through design and whilst I probably appeared to be doing OK on the outside, I was stressed, directionless, and, at times hopeless. I wanted to feel free, like I was actually living my life, enjoying my life, and not the excessive ‘after work at the pub’ kind, which was something I did way too well.
I was a serial ‘searcher’ and had consumed every self-help book, TED talk and self-development course going. I’d looked everywhere, in retrospect, for myself: laughter yoga, flamenco dancing, radio production, sculpture, abstract art, singing, playing instruments, dancing, meditating and various volunteering jobs. I could go on. Still I felt disconnected, all the while feeling – with rising panic - that time was running out, fast.
Everything changed when I attended a weekend workshop - about 8 years ago - which introduced me to free writing. Free writing is a bit like journaling in that it’s a splurge of what’s on your mind. It’s continuous, unedited writing.
Writing gave me much needed headspace and a way to process what I was experiencing. It was clear I hadn’t been processing anything. More like shoving it all away in some internal cupboard that was ready to burst. And once I had the space to breathe, I began to discover and connect to myself and get clearer on what I wanted and what brings me fulfilment. I started to feel more grounded and in control, to feel calmer, healthier, happier and hopeful. All that, and it was fun and creative too!
After making everyone I knew have a go (they all enjoyed it, honest), I made the leap in 2018 and started using writing professionally to inspire and enable people through coaching and running workshops.
Now, I like to help people who fall between the cracks. Those who may seem just fine from the outside, but are struggling all the same.
My journey is far from over. Life has its own schedule and I don’t believe in forcing outcomes. But I do know I’m on the right path, defining my own version of success, and spending my time doing things that satisfy and fulfil me and that’s what I want to help other people do. Wherever I end up, I know that writing will help me get there.
You can read about and hear every day people talking to me about what writing gives them on Instagram @writeenjoyrepeat.
I trained as a coach with the Academy of Executive Coaching in 2011. I chose this course as there was a pass/fail, which not all training providers offer. As well as my own model of exploration and discovery through writing, I work with the Co-active model which holds that you are already whole, i.e. don't need changing or fixing. That only you can know what's right for you, and it's my job to give you space, listen, ask you the right questions - always following your agenda – and to help you have the aha moments you need to make the changes you want. I support direction vs goals as it’s less prescriptive and enables you to be more flexible when moving forwards.
CP's Day Off is my constant reminder to not take my life and being a grown up too seriously, whilst taking responsibility for my actions and allowing 'life' to take care of the rest.
"Life moves pretty fast, if you don't stop and look around once in a while, you might miss it." Ferris Bueller
Writing stuff* down has been around for a very long time. Some use it for creativity, some for personal reflection by externalising the internal, and others, just for fun. It's also known as stream of consciousness writing, wild writing, or free flow writing.
The main idea is to start writing from some kind of prompt**, then, keep the pen moving - for a short, timed period. Whatever you do, don't edit or worry about grammar or any corrections - just move forwards and don't look back.
Essentially that's it. It can bring up creative ideas if that's your thing, just be a way to start your day and get the first thing in the morning clutter out the way (as in Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages) or insights about yourself and different perspectives which help to see things as they are, not just our version of them.
"Why can't I just free write on my own?" I hear you ask. You absolutely can, and I recommend it with all my heart. I do it almost every day. There are tonnes of books and Apps with prompts galore, so yes, go for it if that's your thing.
The reason I'm so passionate about it being a shared experience is that, well, it's a shared experience. It's fun. Your writing can really go somewhere different when you're writing with other people. Finally, and only if you're ever happy to, you can really get deeper insight and broader perspective by sharing what you write. Hearing yourself reading your own words can be really powerful, as well as the connection in being seen and heard whilst doing so. It's incredibly powerful during coaching. You will inevitably write things you wouldn't necessarily think to say, or write things with a different spin; always leading to deeper understanding.
*'Stuff' is my technical term for the thoughts that scramble around our brains 24 hours a day.
**A 'prompt' could be something as
simple as a word, or a random sentence from a book or article, a thought, or an overheard sentence from someone in the street.