Exhibits: Harvesting Emotional Energy on Paper
What does transformative writing look like?
Before providing five examples of transformative writing on this site, here is a brief summary of some of the core elements of transformative writing.
- Transformative writing is wonderfully malleable; it is not a specific genre of writing linked to specific traditions, expectations, forms, or styles of writing.
- Transformative writing is s a practical and effective practice of personal development backed by scientific research; it is not a program of New Age nonsense complete with attendant gurus.
- Transformative writing is a means to harvest emotional energy on the blank page so that it can be observed and clarified; it is not a diary of chronological events that occurred over the course of a day.
- Transformative writing is a means to express difficult experiences in an enduring form so they can be worked with in imaginative ways over time; it is not merely a catalogue of our difficulties.
- Transformative writing is a break for independence; it is not a form of escape from the real life events.
- Transformative writing is a powerful form of self-compassion and resilience; it is not a parade of ego-centric heroics.
- Transformative writing is a means to attain a degree of control in life, even if the extent of our control is only to better understand our circumstances; it is not a panacea for making problems magically vanish.
- Transformative writing is an extension of the soul and the sacred intuitions of our belonging; it is not an abstract process of the intellect.
- Transformative writing is a direct extension of mindful learning and contemplative insight; it cannot be reduced to a series of steps to success.
- Transformative writing is improvisatory and emergent in nature; it cannot be reduced to a strategic action plan.
Ultimately transformative writing is an inner quest to alleviate sources of distress, seek authentic source of consolation, and cultivate a greater sense of wellbeing.
Five Examples of Transformative Writing
Many of the articles here on my site originated in deeply personal and difficult experiences. Writing about them in my journal was not only a way to cope with difficult emotions but also a conscious attempt to alleviate the distress I was feeling. Some of these journal articles turned into articles I have [presented here on this site.
- Dark Night of the Soul: A very difficult period of time in my life, thankfully long since past, that I decided to share publically. The response to these articles has been quite significant. These articles revealed the potential for transformative writing to express something deeply personal yet universal in precisely the same moment.
- On the Loss of My Parents: The genesis of my work as a transformative writer and this website begins in this series of eight articles. One of the permanent effects of this writing has been the development of an interest in aging, or more specifically, the liminal frontiers of aging.
- A Conversation with Grief: This article is an attempt to understand the feeling of grief and bereavement in my life. Originating in the aftermath following the loss of my parents, it grapples with trying to find authentic and enduring sources of consolation and comfort in the midst of loss.
- A Tragic Loss: A young life taken before its time is one of the worst nightmares a parent can ever face. This article honours the life of a young man who was taken from friends of our far before his time.
- One Day You Will Be a Memory: This article helped me to come to terms with my own mortality. Far from making me fearless in the face of death, it transformed my sense of purpose in life.
So Where is the Transformation?
Each one of the articles referenced above was not written in one sitting. Some of them began as phrases or sentences in my private journals over significant periods of time, as was the case with the Dark Night of the Soul articles. In contrast, One Day You Will Be A Memory emerged in a single sitting and was not foreshadowed in my journals.
The Dark Night of the Soul articles, for example, represent a powerful and permanent source of transformation in my own life. I did not sit down and write them in a few convenient sessions. They represent a flowing together of a profound depression, a tenuous reaching out to understand and alleviate my internal suffering, and a slow struggle to find my way back into the world over a period of a few years.
We all have experiences in life that bring us to our knees, feel abandoned, and forever alter our sense of identity. How we move through these experiences, or become trapped within them, is a defining feature of our life story.
Each of the articles above is an attempt to distill and clarify my own demons. I eventually discovered the idea of liminality, and recognized that certain rites of passage in life are not only difficult, but potentially life-threatening.
Writing myself through these experiences was fundamental to my own wellbeing. Had I not been writing during these periods of time I doubt I would be where I am today.
The sense of transformation is something I deeply feel in these articles, but, of course, the words may not resonate with others. In the dark night articles, many people have confirmed with me that they found resonance and a sense of clarification of their own experiences with the experience of spiritual exile and abandonment. There was no way for me to know in advance that this would happen. I could not foresee the specific points of connection that readers would make. And there is no need to do so.
Transformative writing originates from deep within, and in this sense the writer cannot be concerned with an “ideal reader,” “target audience” or “psychographic profile,” or any other tactic; for the transformative writer there is only authenticity, felt-meaning, and personal creativity. The reader will discover transformation within these words – or perhaps not.
Writing can quite literally become an act of survival and a medium of hope that is shared with others with the intention of offering something of value self and others at the same time.