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December 2012 Newsletter | Writing Your Way to Happiness

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Happy Holidays!

“Ring the bells that still can ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything,
that’s how the light gets in.” – Leonard Cohen

 

I’d like to welcome all the new and renewed members! I hope all of you are having a lovely holiday season, and I want to thank all of you who joined us this year as members and who were on the phone with us in our Roundtable discussions. We are reaching people all over the world, and it’s so exciting to hear about people’s stories and books. At NAMW, we are creating more articles and audios for members to enjoy, and there is more information that will be appearing on our resource page –it’s under construction!

As many of you know, I have focused on the power of writing to heal in my workshops and in my book The Power of Memoir—as a therapist I’m always interested in what makes a difference in people’s lives—and writing helps us to tap into the essential truths that give meaning to our lives. Another way that we can create change and transformation is by Gratitude Journaling. I’ve included some important information from the Greater Good Science Foundation and Robert Emmons, whose tips about using your journal to make your brain happy are below.

 

Gratitude Journaling

Robert Emmons is one of the world’s leading experts on the science of gratitude. Emmons, a professor at the University of California, Davis, shared these tips for reaping rewards from your gratitude journal. This article is taken from the Greater Good Science Foundation website. There’s a “community gratitude journal” on Greater Good. The whole article can be read here, with videos and questionnaires to help you find more gratitude and happiness in your life.

  • Don’t just go through the motions. Research by psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky and others suggests that journaling is more effective if you first make the conscious decision to become happier and more grateful. “Motivation to become happier plays a role in the efficacy of journaling,” says Emmons.
  • Go for depth over breadth. Elaborating in detail about a particular thing for which you’re grateful carries more benefits than a superficial list of many things.
  • Get personal. Focusing on people to whom you are grateful has more of an impact than focusing on things for which you are grateful.
  • Try subtraction, not just addition. One effective way of stimulating gratitude is to reflect on what your life would be like without certain blessings, rather than just tallying up all those good things.
  • Savor surprises. Try to record events that were unexpected or surprising, as these tend to elicit stronger levels of gratitude.
  • Don’t overdo it. Writing occasionally (once or twice per week) is more beneficial than daily journaling. In fact, one study found that people who wrote in their gratitude journals once a week for six weeks reported boosts in happiness; people who wrote three times per week didn’t. “We adapt to positive events quickly, especially if we constantly focus on them,” says Emmons. “It seems counterintuitive, but it is how the mind works.”

journaling_to_healWhen people start keeping a gratitude journal, Emmons recommends that they see each item in their journal as a gift, that they “make the conscious effort to associate it with the word ‘gift.’”

Here are the exact instructions he gives participants in his studies:

Be aware of your feelings and how you “relish” and “savor” this gift in your imagination. Take the time to be especially aware of the depth of your gratitude.

Start your gratitude journal today. Buy yourself a new journal and carry it with you. It will change how you look at everything.

 

 

Telesummit News

2012 Fall TelesummitWe had a wonderful Telesummit on November 2 with our guests Mike O’Mary who gave us some great tips and secrets for inexpensive book marketing; Lisa Cron explained how the brain works and who it needs to get hooked on a story; Frances Caballo had us all connected as we learned about social media for authors, and Nina Amir gave some useful information about blogging to create platform and even a book deal. Brooke Warner and Kami Wicoff completed our exhausting but exhilarating day by discussing the various publishing models in play today. Over 100 people were on some of the calls! Stay tuned for the next one in April 2013—another all day free event to give you the resources you need to write and publish your memoir. It will be our 5th anniversary Telesummit!

 

Write Your Memoir in 2013

Get a great start on your new year by making a commitment to write your memoir.

Join my Spiritual and Healing Memoir Workshop Winter 2013

We all grow up with the weight of history on us. Our ancestors dwell in the attics of our brains as they do in the spiraling chains of knowledge hidden in every cell of our bodies. ~Shirley Abbott

In this workshop, we silence the noise of everyday life and dig into memories, tune into writing our stories, and learn the skills needed to write a satisfying memoir—to get all the way to “The End.”

It’s important to write freely without worrying about your inner critic or being published just yet—though that may be your ultimate goal. In order to get your memoir done, you need to feed your creative spirit, and have accountability to help get your stories on the page in a first draft. Read more here.

“Stories are for joining the past to the future. Stories are for those late hours in the night when you can’t remember how you got from where you were to where you are. Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except the story.” ~ Tim O’Brien

 

Times They Were A-Changing:Women Remember the 60s & 70s

Where were you in the 60s and 70s?  Seeking women with telltale stories of that extraordinary era for a unique anthology: Times They Were A-Changing: Women Remember the 60s and 70s. Prizes will be awarded to the top three personal narratives, though all entries are eligible for publication: First – $300, publication, and 5 copies of the anthology; Second – $150, publication, and 3 copies of the anthology; Third – $75, publication, and 2 copies of the anthology. Deadline: January 15, 2013. Entry fees: $20 for prose, $15 for poetry. For complete guidelines visit www.timestheywereachanging.com .

 

Free January Roundtable Discussion   

January 10, 2013

4 PM PST 5 PM MST 6 PM CST 7 PM EST

Creating a Successful Book Event | One Dozen Pitfalls and Tips for Memoir Writers

Patricia V. Davis

 

Whether you’re planning a book event at a retail book outlet or a unique venue, there are ways to make it right – things that can go wrong that an author might never imagine. Bestselling author Patricia V. Davis is known for her successful and fun book events. She will share with us the myriad steps that can make or break a book event, including a “Things to Do” and “Things Not to Do” checklist from which any author, whether debut or seasoned, can benefit.

 

Inspiring People

Inspiring PeopleWe all need inspiration to keep going with our writing. One person who has inspired me for the last two decades is Dorothy Allison. Dorothy is between me and my friend Betsy Graziani Fassbinder at benefit for Hedgebrook at the Hotel Rex in San Francisco. Here is one of my favorite quotes:

Two or three things I know for sure, and one of them is that to go on living, I have to tell stories, that stories are the one sure thing I know to touch the heart and change the world

Dorothy and I first met before she was nominated for the National Book Award for her book Bastard Out of Carolina. Don’t be fooled—though it is sold as fiction, it is her story all the way—a true story about poverty and abuse, and the struggle of a girl to find her voice and claim herself. When she talks about her book and her writing life, she shares that it took many years to write it, and even now she is laid low with times she can’t write. She tells how she relived many of the scenes in the book along the way, and how she came to terms with her legacy—all stuff that memoirists need to know on this long journey to get a published book out of us and into the world.

I was pleased to see her again after many years last week at a benefit for the Hedgebrook retreat center on Whidbey Island.

 Have a wonderful holiday season! I look forward to seeing you in 2013!  And remember,

Be Brave–Write Your Story!

 

Linda Joy Myers

President, National Association of Memoir Writers