Writing as Healthy Rebellion

Rebellion is good for you.

Rebellion is good for you.

Julia Cameron says we all have the right to write, even if someone has told us we’re no good at it. Writing is a birthright that cannot be denied. It brings what’s inside to the outside, a very basic human need.

I’m working on a sequel to Wife Material, the novel I published last fall. If you’ve not read it, it’s a story about escaping religious abuse – and it’s based on my earlier life. Ten years in the making, Wife Material deals with dangerous dogma. Dogma that separates people. Dogma that makes them scared to reveal their inner selves. Dogma that keeps them afraid of hell and each other’s judgment.

The sequel (yet unnamed) has a handful of lifelong Church of Christ women emerging from deep and isolating emotional stupor and coming together to produce change. They discover the power of confession and truth-telling. They uncover secrets that have fostered the abuse of women and children for generations. They transform their relationships into more mutual, sustaining connections and they demand change. The women disobey. And as they disobey, they shine light on the path to healing for a whole community.

This is the change I want to see in the world.

Life Story Re-Write

Changing the story changes the brain. A new idea literally causes different neuronal firing, which leads to new cooperation between neurons and groups of neurons. When you get fresh information or use your imagination to see a different outcome, you create new connections in your nervous system.

People often say: I’m not a good writer. I don’t even know where to start. I have nothing important to say. My story would bore people to death…

To which, I say: That’s okay. You know things. Write what you know. Nobody has to see it but you.

And that’s where it starts. Here’s a set of exercises to help you get things onto the page that can change the world. For each exercise, observe the time limit.

  1. Set a timer for three minutes. Make a list of five issues you care deeply about (e.g., child abuse, poverty, mental health treatment, nutrition).
  2. Set a timer for three minutes. Write a few short sentences about one of the items on your list above. What should we be doing to address it in the world?
  3. Set a timer for ten minutes. Write a short scene from your life. Absolutely any scene. Add description. Add dialogue.
  4. Set a timer for ten minutes. Make a list: ten events from your life that stand out in memory (positive or negative).
  5. Set a timer for ten minutes. Write a scene from one of the events above. Add description. Add dialogue.
  6. Get a cup of coffee. Stretch. Set a timer for twenty minutes. Make up a short scene about a person living one of the issues from list number one.

Notice that when you’ve done these exercises, you have the beginnings of a book or a blog. You have a collection of your deepest observations. You even have a piece of fiction. You have the words of your higher self, recorded on the page, staring you in the face. You have been documented.

Check out my book and get inspired to make up your own story.

Read Wife Material

2 thoughts on “Writing as Healthy Rebellion

  1. “Changing the story changes the brain.” Beautifully and so succinctly put. And absolutely, positively true!

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