Write A Life! By Roxanne Sadovsky

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It’s not very fun to be stuck in a rut. Chances are the last thing you want to do some days is write something, let alone get out of bed! Even though we know it will pass, our doldrums tend to get the best of us. One way to fight the unwelcome moodiness is by understanding why it comes and goes, which we begin through creative writing. Creative Writing is well recognized as a powerful tool for encouraging self-awareness, empathy, and personal change.

When I tell people that I am a writer, one of the first things they ask me is where they can buy one of my books. “Amazon? Barnes and Noble?” they ask, gazing heavenward to the pedestal where they have suddenly put me. As much as I am tempted to go along with the fantasy life they have so generously granted, I know it’s only fair that I tell them the truth: I write because I have to. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy selling my work, despite the struggle to “make it” as a writer; the point is that publishing is an afterthought.

Writing as Healing

While I’d like to introduce my class with a grandiose story about how writing has saved my life, or how rearranging the letters in my last name in order to create a snazzier penname was the gateway to wellness, or how I finally “found myself” while hiding away at a writers retreat in northern Canada, I’m afraid I’ll have to start with something a little less fantastical. While all of that may be true, there is no one single story that ultimately taught me how to live well, abandon my addictions, put an end to toxic relationships, or follow my life’s dreams. There is no dramatic beginning, tumultuous climax, or perfect ending to offer, either. What I do have is a whole bunch of little stories – some with happy endings, some with tragic ones. But it is the stories that fall in between the beginning and the ending, the place where the mundane everyday details unfurl, where the real strength lives.

I find that there is a tendency in our quick-fix culture to skip the middle part, not only in our writing, but also in our day-to-day lives. When we skip the details – how we feel, our senses, the temperature, and even the mundane, etc. – we miss out on the chance to connect deeply with ourselves and with others. We are all storytellers. Stories – either oral or written – are the things we tell ourselves in order to make sense of our lives and those around us. When those stories become misguided or sad, we begin to feel misguided ourselves, and that is the time when examining, rewriting or telling our stories can offer the most healing. Writing as Healing joins students of all writing levels and backgrounds in locating some of those wayward stories, listening to what they have to say, and even rewriting a few of them.

While Writing as Healing often draws writers, artists, and healthcare professionals, the class also attracts individuals who are eager to explore healing and self-discovery by working on something personal, whether that be chronic emotional, mental or physical health, medical concerns, relationship or family of origin issues, or a simple desire to know more about who they are. Sometimes personal issues manifest as depression, anxiety, anger, poor diet and nutrition, body image, and lack of boundaries with family, friends or coworkers, which through writing, are utilized to create obtainable goals, new outlooks and life change.

For example, students may be asked to simply write the “story” behind their name. What can they learn about who they are or where they come from by exploring the origin of their name? Delving a bit deeper, students will also write their birth announcement, obituary, and claim to fame. Other weeks, students will write their “life scripts” and then go back and rewrite some of the areas that are no longer needed in one’s life story in order to survive. We’ll even write a few fantasies, too. What are your dreams? What separates you from those dreams? What does your fantasy life look like?

Though my fantasy writing life may have begun with ethereal images of my books in the windows of Barnes and Noble, reality has given me a far greater gift: it has allowed me to write myself free. Before I was a writer, I was in a dead end job – dead end life actually – and until I started writing about what another world could look like, taking the steps it would need to get there, I was stuck in the same old story of my life. What if I were to go to an MFA program? What if I were to write a memoir about growing up in Los Angeles? It took 25 years for me to un-write the ghost town that stood in place of who I was, but gradually, I wrote myself back to life, out of the spotlight. As I wrote myself free, debunking each mythology chapter by chapter, I finally saw L.A. for what it really is: a great place to visit.

And here’s the kicker: After all those rewrites, some which led to significant life changes, publication, and a world’s worth of clarity, I had written so many pages that I got a memoir out of the deal – I Love Lucy and She Loves Me, Too: a Hollywood Memoir. It’s the story of how one girl wrote herself out of Hollywood.

If you’d like to explore yourself, meet other writes with interesting lives, and even have some therapeutical fun, my next class, WRITING AS HEALING: THE POWER OF PERSONAL STORIES, starts just after New Year’s. Writing and sharing our life stories in the group context promotes healing. And, it’s completely flexible. You can participate on your own schedule. Hope to see you there!

Roxanne Sadovsky is a Twin Cities freelance writer and teacher. She holds a masters degree in counseling psychology and creative nonfiction and currently teaches at the Loft and through Minneapolis community education, and is the founder of “Write-a-Life,” which blends life writing with personal and community healing. She writes for Minneapolis St. Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Jewish Life, and aislesay.com, and has been published in Minnesota Monthly, Twin Cities Wellness, Utne, The Seattle Times, Seattle Magazine, Cafe 80s, Show and Tell, Byline, and many more. Her memoir, I Love Lucy and She Loves Me, Too is about growing up latchkey in the 1970s and 80s in West Los Angeles.

She teaches the six-week course, WRITING AS HEALING: THE POWER OF PERSONAL STORIES, available at WritersWeekly.com.


This article may be reprinted/redistributed freely, as long as the entire article and bio are included.