“I can’t journal because —” Fill in the blank. Excuses abound in the journal workshops I facilitate as to why people believe they can’t write — either a journal or more public writing.
The transformation that can occur when writing is directly correlated to the power your excuses have over you. Decades ago, Christy Brown became an early hero of mine, epitomizing what obstacles can be overcome if the desire to express oneself in writing is strong enough. Having Cerebral Palsy, the only limb he had use of was his left foot. Undaunted, he typed his autobiography, My Left Foot, with the toes of his left foot.
Just last year, George Dawson and Jim Henry have joined my growing collection of heroes who transcended their obstacles in order to write. Each man learned how to read in their 90’s. They didn’t stop there. These late bloomers went on to write their life stories. Dawson, grandson and great grandson of African-American slaves, learned to read at 98 and went on to coauthor his autobiography, Life Is So Good, age 101. Jim Henry, a lifelong lobsterman, was taken out of school in the third grade to help support the family. At age 91, he heard the story of George Dawson and was inspired. He started reading at 96 and wrote his book, In a Fisherman’s Language, at 98.
If these people can overcome physical and societal obstacles, so can you. Follow these steps.
1. First, fill in the blank.
I can’t journal or write because __________________.
2. Make a list of things you would like to write about IF YOU COULD WRITE . The list can be things that you’d want to keep private and things you’d like to share.
3. Write to your obstacle. i.e. Dear Perfectionist, Dear Insecurity, Dear Critic, Dear Saboteur, Dear Illness. Tell it what it is doing to you and how you want to change.
4. Close your eyes and use any relaxation technique that works for you — deep breathing, meditating, praying, singing.
5. Open your eyes and let something jump off the list.
6. START WRITING!
For more information on George Dawson and Jim Henry, go to the link below.