Journey Writing Circles FAQ’s
What if I’m not a writer?
You do not have to be a writer (published or unpublished) to do Journey Writing. But you do need to have the desire to put pen to page and write. For instance, I’m not that interested in exploring watercolor painting so I wouldn’t seek out a workshop or program that uses it as the main modality. So whether you’ve spent a lifetime journaling or it’s something you’ve dabbled in now and again or if you’ve never even owned a journal but you know you want to express what’s inside through writing, then come check it out. This work is probably unlike any other writing including stream-of-consciousness morning pages in Julia Cameron’s renowned book “The Artist’s Way”. The reason for this lies in the innate magic that happens when women gather in circle and get real. It’s powerful.
Will my writing improve?
Yes! Because you will have a focused 2-hour session in which to write (although we don’t write the entire time because a lot of the time we are listening to each other’s pieces) your writing will improve because you are writing. Your writing will also improve because you are guided to write from the heart, no holds barred, in a stream-of-consciousness free flowing style that forces you to get out of your own way and write what’s real and true. Part of the beauty of ‘good’ writing lies in the ability to be honest and open on the page. That’s what this writing is about. Plus, we spend a lot of time listening to one another’s pieces of writing so we begin to learn what writing bores us and what writing hooks us and makes us want to hear more. So we learn here more by osmosing and listening that by me teaching, although I do offer a bit of that too in an organic way.
What if I don’t feel comfortable reading my writing out loud?
It’s normal even for seasoned Journey Writers (me included) to feel uncomfortable sharing certain memories, truths, and feelings out loud. My mentor, Laurie Wagner, calls these circles ‘brave’ spaces as opposed to just ‘safe’ spaces because it takes a lot of courage to be vulnerable and to be seen. Women have shared all kinds of traumas, insecurities, embarrassments, secrets, desires, guilt, shame and what I can say is that releasing it first by writing it on the page and second by speaking it out loud, diminishes its power, for real. I know this sounds like a cliché and it’s true. It’s incredibly cathartic to share something that feels edgy and scary in a container that is built to create safety and acceptance. It’s a very different experience to posting it on Facebook for randos to read. Part of creating a circle of trust is asking for 100% participation from every person in the circle so that we are all equal and no one gets ‘special treatment’. I encourage every participant in every circle to trust that they can leap and the net will appear in the form of kind, compassionate hearts who are listening and honoring your truth. So trust that you can be brave enough to share something no matter how awful or scary it feels in the moment and that you will feel better for having done so.
Is this like therapy?
Journey Writing is a bit like therapy but it is NOT therapy and I am not a therapist. What this is is therapeutic creative writing. Feelings inevitably arise from each participant who braves getting real on the page and sometimes memories come up that feel painful or shocking and all of this is welcome. I feel totally confident in my expertise as a holder circle to hold the space for such emotions to arise and I know that in this work I do not have to do anything other than be present and compassionate. I do not offer advice, condolences, pity, sympathy, empathy. I merely hold space. Moreover, the circle — the magical, mysterious energetic field that is created when individuals gather — is all powerful and holds the energy of the group just as much as I do. It’s called a container for a reason. And every container looks and feels different depending on who is in the group and what energy she holds, and depending on the poems I read and what writing they elicit. So bottom line is stuff comes up and between the blank page, my guidance and the circle’s sacred container, we’ve got you.
*A word of caution: If you are in an incredibly vulnerable time in your life and your emotions are feeling out of control then you may want to consult a therapist or your choice of practitioner at the same time for added support.
What if I’m not comfortable in the circle?
As the circle holder, I do everything I can to make each and every person feel welcome, seen and heard in every circle. I have, to date, never had anyone feel so uncomfortable that they wanted to leave. But it could happen and it could happen that you just don’t click with me as the guide and circle holder. That’s why I offer you the opportunity to try your first circle for free. Remember though that depending on who is in the circle and what poems I provide, each circle is different. But once you try the practice for a full 2-hours you will know if this is something you want to pursue or not. It will be clear.
Why don’t you offer critique or feedback?
I learned this beautiful practice from my mentor, Laurie Wagner, and this is the way that she taught it without critique or feedback. There are many reasons for this. One of which is this work is not about ‘improving’. It’s not ego work. It’s soul work. It’s about improving your soul so it doesn’t actually matter how ‘good’ your writing is so long as it’s true and real and comes from your heart and your gut. Being authentic on the page, learning to write in your own voice is way more important in this practice. Even though I don’t offer feedback, I do often comment on the beauty of the truth-telling sometimes with just one word such as ‘beautiful’. Instead of critique or feedback I also offer something that I feel is more powerful in a way and that’s gratitude. After every person reads her writing out loud, I thank her and encourage us all to offer thanks in our own way. I call this gifting and it offers each person more than what a critique would offer—it offers them the gift of feeling truly seen and heard without judgement. That’s something most of us never receive in a lifetime.
Why don’t you offer it for men?
I’m not averse to offering Journey Writing for men at all. I am open to it. It would be different though because if I were to lead a circle for men, my writing would stand out since I’d be the only woman. As a woman I may not be able to relate to all of their experiences in the same way that I do if we are all women. But I would be able to resonate with their truth-telling since we are all human. Also, there’s a magic that happens when women gather with women, and girls gather with girls and I don’t believe this same magic would necessarily happen with men mixed into the circle but I could be wrong. I’m willing to try various gender formations of circles in the future, but for now I offer Journey Writing to women and to teen girls.
*If you have a question that I have not answered, feel free to reach out to me here and I’ll be happy to connect with you.