I invited my good friend and amazing writing teacher, Laurie Wagner, to write a guest post for this blog. It is most simple to describe Laurie as a writing teacher — like I just did — but the truth is, she's really just as much a "freedom coach" or "tell it like it is!" coach. Laurie helps people (including me!) find more freedom in their lives — in what we write, but also how we speak, see, and live — deep down into our bones. Laurie is introducing a new ecourse on April 9.—Sherry
Telling True Stores (By Laurie Wagner)
When it comes to telling true stories, there are a number of ways in. One surefire way is to write what you know. What that means is, don’t go looking for a better story out there than the one you’re living.
Write what you know means writing about the things that are going on in your life right now: what you’re learning from your marriage, the conversation you had with your best friend, the incident with your teenager, what another mother from school said to you on the playground last week, a friendship that’s gone south, something you’ve recently come to understand about your parents. Write what you know invites you to tell the truth about your experience from that very simple human place.
So often writers feel that there is some better story out there, something more fascinating for people to read, or that they need to fancy themselves up to be interesting. They doubt that their own lives will be interesting enough. But we forget that we’re just human beings trying to make connections with each other – what better way to do that than to talk about something that is true.
The other totally important thing about writing what you know is that there’s an aliveness to it because it’s part of the current of your life. There’s actual energy there because it’s happening, which makes writing so much easier. It doesn’t have to come from your head, but can come from the realness of what you are experiencing now.
So consider writing about the things that are on your mind today, the stories and scenes and moments that are pushing through you now. Don’t doubt their value in the world of writing.
An easy writing assignment to get people talking about something true: Make a list of things we’d know about you if we really knew you. Start each line with, “If you really knew me…” and keep going, see what comes out of you. You might surprise yourself, you might even learn something true about yourself.
Laurie Wagner is a writer, teacher and coach who uses her experience working with thousands of writers over the years to nurture herself as an artist and a teacher, and to help other budding and experienced writers do the same. She is the author of Living Happily Ever After: Couples Talk about Long Time Love and Expectations: Women Talk About Becoming a Mother. She teaches classes in Alameda, in Berkeley, and online through her website.
Laurie's newest offering, Telling True Stories, starts on April 9th. Registration is open now. Through weekly writing assignments, inspirational interviews with well-known writers, and a supportive community to share your work with, this five-week e-course is your own virtual writing studio where you can write the stories that are knocking at your soul’s door. Cost $135.
Photos copyright Laurie Wagner