Memoir Writing Tiny Tip #17: Writing and Your Emotions

by Matilda Butler on February 27, 2018

catnav-interviews-active-3Post #247 – Memoir Writing Tiny Tip – Matilda Butler



Memoir Writing Tiny Tip #17

In these blogs, we have returned to the subject of writing and emotions several times. Today’s Tiny Tip provides what I hope will be a new perspective for you.

I’ve been reading Susan David’s work on emotional agility and find that it applies to one of the effective ways we can use memoir writing. Here’s her premise:

1. We become “hooked” on our emotions when we believe they are facts. For example: “I’m not as smart as others at work so I don’t contribute much to discussions.” “I didn’t do well in school, so I’ll probably never do well at work.” You probably have your own version of these statements. The way we feel does not have to determine outcomes unless we buy into that scenario, unless we believe these are unchangeable facts.

2. If we try to “unhook”, we often do it by minimizing (or even rationalizing) emotions. But emotional states are a major way that we express our core values. So by ignoring or finding these emotions acceptable, we do not allow ourselves to grow.

That’s where memoir writing comes in. Writing lets us examine our emotions and the ways in which they affect our everyday lives. Writing gives us the time and space to evaluate the emotions that may have more control over our lives than they should.

Writing Prompt:

For today, just give yourself some time to think about ways that emotions are keeping you plugged into behaviors that aren’t moving you forward in life. No need to write. Just think about this.

Then the next time you sit down to write, spend about 10 minutes revisiting your thoughts on emotions that allow you to grow, to go forward and those that may be holding you back. Examine at least one positive and one negative emotion. How do these emotions play out in your life? How have they shaped your story and in what ways do you need to “unhook” from negative ones?

As you get back to writing your memoir, allow yourself to go deeper into emotions that you have treated as fact even though they are merely emotions.

See if this enables you to move forward. See if this version of writing and healing allows you to grow as a person and to change your future life story.

That’s my Tiny Tip for today.


How This Tiny Tip Series Started

The idea for a series of short writing tips came to me while reading the program notes for a chamber music concert. I realized that many (well, ok, most) of my blog articles get to be long and often require you to do certain things — like write from prompts I’ve provided. And while I will continue with this type of longer article because I think they are of value, I realized that sometimes as writers we just want a little bit of information or a small new idea or a thought stated differently. We don’t have a lot of time.

That’s the concept behind each Tiny Tip. Just a nugget to give you something to think about as you go through your busy day.

Enjoy.

*NOTE: Susan David’s book is: Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrance Change, and Thrive in Work and Life.

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