|Take your writing to bed with you...|
Image from www.artcentergallery.com
Have you ever heard of a Pillow Book? It is similar to a diary or journal, being a collection of personal musings, secret thoughts, verse etc. It is a type of free-writing, where you allow the pen to say whatever is on your mind, but in a very lyrical, creative style. It is not a rendition of what you did that day or a list of appointments, but a review of your emotional state now that the day is drawing to a close. It might even be a work of fiction, in that you re-write the day/ the relationship/ the argument as you wish it had turned out.
I have always believed that writing is a healing art; a form of therapy that we can administer to ourselves as and when we need it. It is no accident that lots of young girls begin to write their first diary during puberty, when their bodies are going through massive changes and they need a place to keep all the emotional turmoil.
Psychotherapists often suggest journaling as a way for people to deal with stress, trauma and life changes such as divorce or bereavement, because it helps the client to heal and move forward.
Of course you needn't be traumatized to start creating a pillow book; you can begin one anytime, but if you are going through something then it's good to get it down on paper just to free up your head-space. Take your troubles to the page, because the page will never let you down. Don't worry about spelling or grammar, just write it all out.
The beauty of a pillow book is that no-one else will ever read it - it is for your eyes only, so you are free to say anything you choose...all those natural feelings that society would frown upon if you spoke them out loud. In a pillow book its okay to admit that you dislike your children sometimes; or you feel angry with a parent or spouse for becoming ill and turning you into an unpaid nurse; or that you sometimes have vengeful thoughts towards your ex-partner...in a pillow book you can write it all down, exactly as you feel it; you can fictionalize it or turn it into a poem, but you will always know where it came from and what aspect of your life inspired that particular piece. You can celebrate the joyful events too and have a party on the page!
As you get into the habit of taking your emotions to the page something extraordinary begins to take place within you - your sense of clarity returns, your peace of mind is restored and you will feel more in control of your head-space. Therapeutic writing can help to lessen anxiety, stress and worry, replacing these negative feelings with more positive ones such as tranquility, contentment and optimism. This won't happen overnight, but if you maintain a pillow book for a whole year, you will begin to see the benefits. Those close to you might also comment on how your general outlook on life has improved.
How can a pillow book make you a writer? Because it is the act of writing that makes a writer. All authors draw upon their own personal life experience, so by having the courage to explore your emotions in a pillow book you are documenting rich material for future projects. The ability to turn the darkest, most painful human experience into something beautiful is what makes someone an artist. And if nothing else, keeping a pillow book will get you into the habit of writing daily, or at least, frequently.
To begin with, find a notebook you love and a pen that feels comfortable to write with. You might also want to use a book of writers prompts to get you started - Artist Dates by Julia Cameron; The Writer's Idea Book by Jack Heffron or The Wolf In Your Bed, a Kindle book by Jill Harris all offer suitable material to work with. Most prompts only want you to write for about 10 minutes, so it is easy to fit into a bedtime routine. Or just write for 10 minutes about anything that is on your mind, anything you feel bubbling up...let it out through your pen.
Now get into the habit of going to bed a few minutes earlier, take a cup of cocoa or something with you, settle in, pick up you pillow book and write. Soon enough your pillow book will become a much treasured possession. It is a conversation with your Higher Self and you will enjoy spending time exploring the relationship you are building with the page...this is what it means to be a writer.
In Wicca we have a saying that sums it up; Witch, know thyself!
It is as true for writers as it is for witches. Enough said.