Writing Yourself a Revelation
Three weeks in a row, I left Relief Society in tears.
Nobody had said anything particularly terrible. I didn’t have a falling out with anyone. In fact, I wasn’t entirely sure what was wrong—I could just feel something off. Church had felt like home my entire life, but now I suddenly felt uncomfortable and exhausted. And I couldn’t even articulate why.
On that third week, my husband asked me a question that I needed: “Have you written about this?”
I hadn’t. The question came from someone who knows me well—someone who knows that pen to paper is the way I discover my thoughts. When I’m riding a wave of unarticulated emotion, writing has always helped me reveal to myself truth that I don’t even know I’m carrying. In other words:
I don’t write to record the things I want to say.
I write to discover what wants to be said.
And so, in answer to his question, I went home and wrote from a truly curious and uncertain place about what could be troubling me. As I wrote over weeks, I revealed to myself my heart’s questions about my place in God’s plan as a woman, and I uncovered stories I’d grown up with that had kept me stuck. I wrote for months as I stepped away from church to get my bearings, and the next year, I kept writing through the process of stepping back in again as a different person than I’d been before. Writing—mostly for myself alone, sometimes for other people—was my method of unearthing clarity, connecting with God, and finding peace at a time of emotional chaos.
I’ve personally experienced the way that writing can carry us to a clearer version of ourselves, the way it can illuminate a feeling, elevate a memory, neutralize a trauma, or reveal a truth that we’re not aware of.
If you’re moving through a trial, trying to make a major life decision, or you want to make meaning and beauty out of something that happened in your life, I’ll ask you the same question that helped me:
Have you written about it?
This year, I’ve taught an online personal writing course alongside Ashley Mae Hoiland. The course is called Mine to Tell and it’s 12 weeks of encouragement and insight to help you write the stories that only you can tell.
The writing that came out of the last session of this course stunned me. Women wrote about highly personal experiences with immense power. (Some of them shared their work in an online reading that we did at the end of the course. You can see their stories here. If nothing else, just watch the first story that goes from 4:10-9:44. It will knock you out.)
On June 13, we begin another session of Mine to Tell—the last one we’ll teach this year. And because this course aligns with the mission of the Exponent blog (helping women tell their stories), Exponent has agreed to let me share it with you here.
If you’ve ever felt an urge to write, we’d be thrilled for you to join us. Even if you don’t consider yourself a “writer,” we can help guide you to your own strength and voice on the page.
Come see if Mine to Tell course outline is a good fit for you:
(Exponent readers get $25 off registration by using this code at checkout: EXPONENT)
Exponent blogger ElleK took the previous session of the Mine to Tell course and was so kind to share her experience:
For the first time, I’ve found myself drawn to writing with regularity. I’m so often prevented from writing by the practical internal voice that insists on knowing what a piece is FOR, but Mine to Tell gave me permission to write the story I needed to write without trying to force it into a preconceived form or purpose. Watching my work evolve and learning to revise effectively was exhilarating in a way I didn’t know writing could be. Ashmae and Kathy are thoughtful and supportive in all the best ways.
Whether or not you participate in the Mine to Tell course, I hope you’ll write.
It doesn’t matter if you’re writing for publication or solely for your own fulfillment; either way, something big happens when you can articulate yourself. Your world shifts when you know that you are capable of telling your own story. And when you actually do the work of writing one word in front of another, you discover something of your own that you wouldn’t find any other way.
For me, writing my own story helped reveal the truth and the beauty hidden in my experience, and showed me a way forward. I know writing can reveal your world for you, too.