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June 13, 2018

Tetris

Are you familiar with the video game Tetris? I’ve loved it since I first played it in the 90s. In the game, falling blocks appear at the top of your screen. If you rotate and shift them so they click neatly into place before they reach the bottom, a whole row disappears. That allows you access the next row, and then the next row, and the next, finally clearing away all the clutter and winning the game.

tetris

In short: to reach and fix the foundation, you must start from the outside and work your way in.

It’s the same theory behind writing to heal. You come at it from the surface, lining up feelings as best you can. Maybe you have a vague unease from your childhood or a nagging sense that you’re a fraud and everyone is going to find out. You start by writing about what made you feel uneasy or shameful today, putting aside ten minutes (set your timer) to write without judgment.

That clears away the top level.

Tomorrow, you go a little deeper, fishing for memories of feeling out of place or ashamed in your life. List as many as you can in ten minutes. The next day, pick one of those memories that pinged for you and explore it in a ten-minute writing sprint, bringing in as much detail as you can. Who else was there? What did the emotion feel like in your body—tight chest? Tingling ears? What words were said? Don’t try to make sense of it. Describe it.

Keep writing about the memory, going as deep or as broad as you need to go. Once you have all the juice squeezed out of the memory, I recommend one of three routes:

--Transform it into a short story. Change names, locations, time periods, whatever is needed for you to feel comfortable calling it fiction. Then publish it. Look for a short story contest, start a blog, go to Kindle Direct Publishing and upload it, email it to a friend who likes short fiction, whatever makes sense to you. Your goal is to have at least one person read it.
--Tell someone you trust about the actual memory.
--Post the memory and your feelings/realizations around it to social media. This is for the exceptionally brave. It has been my experience, without fail, that when I make myself vulnerable and authentic on social media, I get the same in return. That doesn’t make it any less terrifying to reveal a super TRUE part of me, though. That said, if you feel comfortable doing this, you’ll not only be helping yourself and getting a better idea of who your tribe is, you’ll be putting healing truth into a world that sorely needs it.

Whichever of those three ways you choose to share your story, you’ll find something beautiful happening: that “row” (ie, that specific personal block) disappears. You’ve lined up the feelings and the memories, and they no longer have the power to trigger or blindside you.
As a bonus (in a “take your vitamins, you’ll feel better” sort of way), you now have access to the row right below it. Come at it this next personal block the same way. Then go to the next row, and the next, clearing away the clutter and winning the game, which to me looks like living an authentic, confident life, one steered by integrity and true connection.

INSTRUCTIONS FOR REWRITE YOUR LIFE, TETRIS-STYLE
5-Day Exercise

  1. DAY ONE: Set a timer for ten minutes. At the top of your paper, write, “I feel…” Write without judgment or pause until the timer goes off, getting all your feelings down.
  2. DAY TWO: Choose a feeling from the Day One freewrite. Set a timer for ten minutes. At the top of your paper, write, “Things that make me feel (Day One feeling) are…” Write without judgment or pause until the timer goes off, listing everything that makes you feel that way.
  3. DAY THREE: Choose a memory from the Day Two freewrite. Set a timer for ten minutes. At the top of your paper, write, “What I remember about (Day Two memory) is…” Write without judgment or pause until the timer goes off, describing everything you can recall about that incident, particularly sensory (sight, sound, smell, taste, touch) details.
  4. DAY FOUR: Repeat Day Three activity as many times as needed until you feel like you have squeezed all the juice out of the memory. You’ll know when this is.
  5. DAY FIVE: Choose how you’re going to share your story: craft it into a fictional short story, tell a friend, or post on social media. If you go the short story route, I recommend reading Damon Knight’s Creating Short Fiction for guidance. If you’re choose the posting to social media route, check out Brene Brown’s, Elizabeth Gilbert’s, and Nora McInerney’s Facebook pages for models as well as a glimpse into the sorts of responses you may expect.

Five days of writing. A lifetime of relief.

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June 12, 2018

In This Together

I just returned from an overnight marketing retreat with my beautiful, talented friend, Cindy Kay. We discussed how to reach the next level of our creative careers, drank wine, and made up randy songs on the slide whistle someone had left behind at our AirBnB (listen for the "The Vagina from Carolina" to hit the airwaves soon. Wait, don't).

I came away with inspiration and ideas, but here's what has really sunk into my bones: a reminder that much of social media is curated, and shiny, and designed to sell something, whether it is an image or a book or a spiralizer. Sometimes I forget that, feel envious, feel small, feel lazy. The getaway with Cindy reminded me how important it is to be authentic, and to connect, and to remember that we all have our pain and struggles, and we all deserve healing and light.

For me, the journey from one to the other takes shape in stories.

There is power in telling our stories, either in memoir, or fiction, or even writing them onto a piece of paper that we burn up immediately after. Look for more authentic posts coming up as I prepare to share with you the process of writing my most intense --and autobiographical--novel yet. In the meanwhile, here's the link to my Rewrite Your Life TEDx Talk. Maybe write down a paragraph of your story today? It'll let a bit more of your light into the world, even if no one ever sees what you write.

Big love to you.

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April 5, 2018

Free Novel-Writing Course

Two nights ago, I received a kind, quiet, amazing email. A writer I respect wanted me to know that she’d gotten as far as Module 4 of my online novel-writing course but then had to quit because one of the exercises made her realize exactly. which. story she needed to write. She’s already written 20K words of it!

When I got her email, I was feeling overwhelmed by fear. You only have to pop on the news at any given time to see why, and if you’re like me, the national chaos is being mirrored in personal relationships. It's like all our collective muck is rising to the surface. Her email brought me back, though, reminding me that we must battle our own demons first.

Claiming our stories changes us, and sharing our stories changes the world. I truly believe that.

So, that $99 online novel-writing class, the one that removed her block so she could see the story she needs to write? I’m making that free, not a single string attached. You can click here for more information.

If you've never written creatively before, this course include supplements to orient you to the basics. If you're an experienced creative writer, this course will show you how to deepen your writing by infusing it with transformative personal experience. Feel free to share the free course link far and wide. Let's spread courage and kindness like it's our job! (Because I suspect it might be.)

images

Happy spring,
and big love
to you!

Jess

p.s. I just dyed my hair purple like the tulip above, and we're going to be a feline foster family here at Chez Lourey. Self-care, kittens, and whimsy, folks! That's what the world needs now.

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Jessica Lourey is the critically-acclaimed author of over 20 novels, articles, and short stories.

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