After 35 years how I can learn to communicate my inner life effectively?
July 11, 2017 2:31 PM   Subscribe

Following an incredibly tumultuous, confusing, and painful recent journey I have had over the course of the last year or so it has been suggested to me that I should write down my experience(s). How can I obtain clarity of thought on something with so many constituent parts, and hopefully therefore also achieve an ability to Communicate the thoughts via the written word in order to achieve my goal in this regard?
posted by numberstation to Society & Culture (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I can recommend the book "The New Diary" by Tristan Rainer. It contains some great exercises that might help you learn to communicate about this experience. I write quite a bit now, and it started with journaling. Not keeping a chronology, but journaling. Whatever was on my mind. Even just lists of things like errands to run, some days.

Personally I am more of a thinking type than a feeling type, so I find it helpful to start this kind of undertaking with bullet points, timelines, and "raw information" style writing. After that I often do research to discover how others characterize or categorize similar experiences. I may learn about psychological processes or models for dissecting an experience, for example. Sometimes I pick up ideas from their writing style; if a writer compares their experience to something, maybe I'll try to think of a similar comparison for my experience. If a writer seems to use a particularly emotive writing style, maybe I'll try it on.

With that said, I'll never be a very emotive communicator (the idea actually stresses me out), and attempting to communicate in this way will tend to rob me and my readers of my most effective gifts. For this reason I recommend periodically pausing to ask yourself if the writing style you have in mind is really matched with your preferred, natural writing style. Good luck!
posted by circular at 3:42 PM on July 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yeah, write.

That's the main thing. Find a notebook you like, or a program you don't mind using, and just start. Write the day's date, and then put down what you're thinking about today, how you think it relates to other things, what you think it has to do with the stuff you've experienced. The next day, do it again. After a while, go back and read the stuff you've already written and then write some more.

You learn to communicate in writing by writing. You learn to think in writing that way too. Don't imagine that you're taking something from your brain and trying to record it faithfully on the page, because that's not really what writing is most of the time. Instead, just use the page itself to think. Chip away at creating the clarity you want there. Give it time and just stay at it. Patterns will emerge.
posted by brennen at 5:48 PM on July 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

It sounds like your questions and thoughts about the experience are a bit unformed right now. I would recommend you just start writing it down, first. Once you've written a few journal entries or a few musings, you will start to develop more specific questions or specific aspects of the experiences you feel aren't coming through well that you want to write more about. I would also suggest at that point, after a week or two of writing, you could look back at the writing you've done and think about how it matches or doesn't match your idea of what you want it to be like.

If by, "write it down" you mean "someone suggested I write a book about it", I still suggest starting with working toward clarity and understanding yourself of what happened, which might mean understanding what the different viewpoints you have are if you are confused or conflicted in your understanding. Take one point of view or interpretation of events and write that down, then try another.
posted by Lady Li at 10:23 PM on July 11, 2017

Do you want to pen-write or do you mind typing? I write in Word and use that as a journal but I make it look like a blog - using a picture/image from Tumblr that best captures the mood. I then just write underneath. Sometimes I free-write nonsense (esp. if angry) then afterwards select the essence of what I want to say so it's coherent for the next time I want to view it. Sometimes I keep the rants but I find them exhausting and draining to read. I have a folder for each month (I use some nice looking folder icons too). You could have a folder for each experience or era or however you want to do it.
posted by ihaveyourfoot at 5:17 AM on July 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

This answer may not help you, but it will help me because journaling/sorting my thoughts is something I've been wanting to do as well (so thanks for asking this question and making me think about it :) )

The last time I kept a decent journal was when I was as an adolescent, at different stages that I think would work again:
-At 12, I kept a daily journal on a simple notepad application on my computer. I wrote about daily events in detail and my feelings and observations were interjected around them. I had a set time to do this ... After school.
-During teenagehood, I randomly handwrote poems that had no fixed structures usually but helped my feelings organically spill out and grow. Often inadvertently metaphors appeared until the whole poem was a metaphor. This wasn't daily but quite often and usually at bed time and early in the morning.
-Unsuccessfully as an adult, I sometimes write about my feelings when they are especially strong. But like ihaveyourfoot said, the rants are draining to read and in the end it doesn't feel freeing to have written them.

So in summary what I think works is having a somewhat simple medium (or at least, consistently using a medium that works for you like Word or a notebook ), focusing not on the feeling itself but the experience that caused the feeling, and setting aside a specific time and place to write.
posted by watrlily at 5:49 PM on July 12, 2017

Thank you all for your recommendations and suggestions. I just need to stop prevaricating and start writing I think and the clarity and finesse can hopefully come at later stage. The intention is to type rather than pen write and I like the suggestion for the use of visual stimuli too.
posted by numberstation at 1:07 AM on July 13, 2017

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