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Breaking Open: The Heart of Writing Memoir—Courage and Permission to Write Your Truth

Linda Joy Myers

We have all been silenced in various ways: family rules to not air the family laundry, society’s rules to be quiet unless you have something nice to say, the rules to be “good” which means to be quiet and docile. The rules to keep the secrets in the family or risk losing their approval.

In my work with writers, I hear themes that we call the Inner Critic: “I can’t write that,” they whisper. Or “no one else knows all these things in my memoir—what will happen when they read this?”  They feel embarrassed and ashamed of their story and often who they are, the life they lived. Some writers get physical symptoms from digging deep in their memories—headaches, heartaches as they drop into the mind and body of who they were in the past. It’s well known that writing helps to heal, thanks to the studies by Dr. James Pennebaker, but the act of writing for each of us is a moment to moment act of courage, an act of encounter that can free you from your silence.

Coeur, meaning heart, is the root of the word courage, and it’s our heart, our deepest truth that we must write from. Readers want to know who you are in your memoir, and to do that you need to be authentic, to draw from your deepest truths.

In this hour, we will explore what it takes to break open, to write past shame and silence and create a memoir that is heartful and speaks universally to your readers.

We will discuss:

  • How to recognize the barriers that silence you
  • The studies about how writing heals body and mind
  • How “the rules” of silencing are imbedded in our family and social history
  • How we learn shame, and how we heal it
  • Techniques to help you fully encounter your memoir and write freely