Few joys in life tickle me more than hearing the neighborhood kids giggling together outside my window. The delight is contagious, and I have to bite my lower lip to keep from joining in.
It's these shared feelings that compel many of us to write. We know our stories strike chords that resonate in the instruments of other people's lives.
And those chords are the base. We need first and foremost to find the point of resonance and strike there. And to strike there, we must identify its point in us.
Rather than begin with our list of stories we want to tell, let's begin with one emotion:
Try any one or more of these exercises. The goal is not to work for the sake of completion but to work for the sake of reaching flow. If you want to spend more time on one question and everything begins to come out, then stop there. Go as you are led.
Locate joy in your body:
- Find it in your face. Where do you feel it come? Do you welcome the reaction, or do you try to tamp it down?
- Find it in your skeletal system. How does your posture change as you laugh?
- Find it in your stomach. How does your center feel as you giggle?
- Find in your breath. What happens to your voice when you're happy? Does your breathing slow down or speed up?
Locate joy in a moment:
- Think back. When is the most recent time you felt those sensations?
- Think further back. When is the first time you remember truly being overjoyed?
- Think with your gut. When is a time the joy was so profound it left you breathless?
Locate joy in a rhythm:
- Think of your walk when you are happy. How would it sound if you were to drum it with your fingers?
- Think of your laugh. How do you laugh? Is it one loud burst and then several small giggles? These are your rhythms.
- Do you hum a tune when you're happy? Do you whistle? What melody do you choose?
Create an environment for your joy.
We often think that an external environment sets the stage for our feelings, but really, it's frequently the other way around. We create an environment to match our feelings. Create it in your mind and then begin to commit it to paper.
- Start with the moment you feel the joy take root.
- Expand from there. Do not worry about the storyline, plot, theme, etc. There will be time for that later. Start with the joy and let it grow.
- When you feel the flow has stopped, as if the pitcher from where it poured is exhausted, turn for a moment and glimpse out one of the windows of your environment. Give it one more sentence, one more look, and stop. As important as having an inside to the joy is also having an outside, a boundary. Let that last sentence be the sigh of finishing.
I can't wait to hear your stories!