Writing Together: Thoughts On Sharing & Listening
I get it, the fear many people have around joining a WTG Circle and doing communal free-flow writing.
I was one of those people.
And then in 2012, I felt the fear -- but followed the "yes" to attend Natalie Goldberg's week-long communal writing retreat in Santa Fe...
My shy-self only wanted to listen to the other 39 people attending the retreat.
But another part of me wanted to be brave and share -- like my fellow retreaters who I admired, and even envied.
Brene Brown says,
"The difficult thing is that vulnerability is the first thing I look for in you and the last thing I'm willing to show you. In you, it's courage and daring. In me, it's weakness."
Can you relate?
And so, I willed myself to read aloud.
My voice shook. My heart pounded. It felt WAY too quiet in the room.
But after I read, I felt brave.
A bolt of electricity and aliveness sat alongside -- and then surpassed -- my anxiety.
I was left with a rare taste of freedom. Freedom to write unedited and real. Freedom to stop comparing myself to others, both favorably and unfavorably. Freedom to see the overwhelming SAMENESS beneath our different details -- and that, oh yeah, I'm not alone in my high, low, and everything in-between experiences.
All that week, we wrote and shared, wrote and shared, wrote and shared -- in big and small groups. We brought the full range of human moments to the page and listened eagerly to one another with smiles and laughter, a few tears, and mostly in sweet silence. By the end of the week, I made friends with my vulnerability.
This vulnerability deep-dive was good and needed medicine for me.
Here's the truth: At some level, we're ALL terrified of being judged and ALL scared to share - at least at first.
Certainly, our inner critic's are horrified and try to get us to do ANYTHING but be real, vulnerable, and fully human in front of others.
But, as Brene Brown reminds us, it's our realness, vulnerability, and human-ness that ATTRACTS us to one another, AND...
"Staying vulnerable is a risk we have to take if we want to experience connection."
The mission at Write to Glow, (and my own personal work), is to support women's (and my) wellness and transformation through self-acceptance and connection.
- On the other side of fear, self-doubt, and control is greater ease being yourself, just as you are -- in the moment, just as it is.
- Honest sharing and deep listening are two powerful practices under the larger umbrella of communal free-flow writing practice that allow us to connect not only to ourselves and to the moment, but to others. ("Happiness Is Other People")
If you're joining a WTG Circle, here's what you can expect around sharing and listening:
Sharing in a WTG Circle:
- We read aloud because our words often sound different in our head than they do on the page. (Fyi, this is why professional writers always read their work aloud).
- When we read, we don't editorialize, explain, or comment on our writing (i.e. "My writing is awful...all over the place... boring...) We just read. All sharing is voluntary and confidential.
- We read aloud to practice letting go of "what will they think?" We become more bold... authentic... empowered... which we can then take into other areas of our life.
- We read aloud because allowing ourselves to be witnessed is a loving, generous act. We give others permission to be vulnerable. And we NEVER know how our words may be just what someone needs to hear in that moment.
Listening in a WTG Circle:
- We listen without commenting. Even praise or encouragement wakes up our inner critic. We want to keep it sleeping, otherwise we write for an audience versus ourselves, listen for praise, compare out, and/or think "I can't say that!" and "What will they think?"
- We listen to understand, to see ourselves in others, to strengthen the muscle of empathy.
- We listen to be changed... opened... inspired... from hearing something from someone else.
- We practice deep listening. Being a silent witness for each other. Holding space with our presence. "We all have much more listening to do," says Mary Oliver.
If you've been shy, but also curious about WTG Circles... if you'd like to practice boldness and empowerment... or the art of deep listening -- I invite you to listen to that part of you saying, "yes!" You'll find other open-hearted women who felt the fear -- and followed the "yes."
Learn about and register for local and online WTG Circles here.
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