IndexCardCure™: 7 Guidelines for a writing circle

ICC writing circle guidelinesMy spirituality group is on summer break. So, this seemed like an opportune time to launch a writing accountability group, an idea that arose after our group spent four weeks writing and reading This I Believe essays. When people make a commitment, like wedding vows or giving testimony in court, a public pronouncement carries a heavier weight than just thinking about a task or goal or even writing it on a to-do list. And that is the point of meeting with Kris and Mary Kay every two weeks. It’s harder to sit face-to-face and make excuses for not doing something. Our goals for this group are to encourage writing consistently by having the accountability that comes from a set date and people who expect you to show up. It will be a bonus if my writing improves by incorporating their suggestions.

If you feel called to write and share your life experiences, being part of a circle can help turn good intentions and inspiration into action. Our writing circle helps nurture how Spirit is choosing to express. What is waiting to be said; what messages need to be captured? Having a date, place and time are just part of the equation. There’s still the need to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. When Kris sent us a reminder as our meeting approached, she included what she learned about herself and writing.

I’d rather clean the bathrooms than write.
I can put off writing by brewing coffee/tea; wiping kitchen counters; putting in a load of wash; reading about writing; trying to find the right book to write in.
IF it rains or doesn’t rain, it might mean it’s not a good time to write

So, thanks for the accountability and the relatively clean house — and a few paragraphs to share at our meeting.

I can relate to Kris’ delaying tactics and maybe you can too. But as Goethe stated, “Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” We manage to accomplish the “have-to-do’s”; the car gets inspected and registered or an assignment is turned in on time.  It’s easy to fill days with urgency, that in the long run don’t matter much. Without a system to prod, “someday” goals don’t get done.  Jane and I have committed to writing regularly on IndexCardCure™ (ICC). We have set specific days for posting and we check-in weekly via skype. In the beginning of ICC, we didn’t have a routine and posted erratically. It was easy to put off until we set up a structure to reinforce our commitment to each other.

For me, writing is a legacy matter.  I want my grandchildren to know something about me, beyond photos, trinkets, or even memories. When loved ones die, you may realize that you didn’t really know the person (and not just that you don’t know where they stashed the will and other legal documents). I have a limited sense of who my parents and brother were. Now, those gaps can’t be filled. Good stories come from trips and slip-ups: the epic fails, tragedies, embarrassments or highlights… While my granddaughters may be excited to hear, “Once upon a time,” the ups and downs bring excitement and fear before “They all lived happily every after.” When everything goes smoothly and exactly according to plan, that’s a fairy tale and not a good story.

So this blog represents my public commitment: to Jane and IndexCardCure™; to Kris and Mary Kay for showing up with something to read every two weeks; and to Rachel and Allison so that they have a sense of who GG is. Writing is a form of revealing yourself in public, which may leave you open to criticism. To be known to others, we have to be willing to go naked, as May Sarton suggests. And after the writing and editing, clicking the “Publish” button puts it all on the line.

“My own belief is that one regards oneself, if one is a serious writer, as an instrument for experiencing. Life—all of it—flows through this instrument and is distilled through it into works of art. How one lives as a private person is intimately bound into the work. And at some point I believe one has to stop holding back for fear of alienating some imaginary reader or real relative or friend, and come out with personal truth. If we are to understand the human condition, and if we are to accept ourselves in all the complexity, self-doubt, extravagance of feeling, guilt, joy, the slow freeing of the self to its full capacity for action and creation, both as human being and as artist, we have to know all we can about each other, and we have to be willing to go naked.” MAY SARTON, JOURNAL OF A SOLITUDE

Lessons from an examined life

© Joan S Grey, 23 Jun 2015





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