SHAPING EXPERIENCE THROUGH STORY
Life is rarely simple; more often than not, it is complex, chaotic, turbulent, and unpredictable. We cannot know what the future will hold and we often struggle to fully understand what has happened in the past or what is happening in the present. In Letters to a Young Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke wrote:
“Things aren’t as tangible as we are told to believe - most experiences are unsayable.”
Writing can help us to navigate this messy, imperfect, and often unsayable human experience. Through writing, we can shape our experiences into stories - stories that help us to better see and understand the world around us. These stories then allow us to attach cognitive and emotional significance to our past and present individual experiences, and prompt us to think beyond them, about the direction we expect and envision our stories to go.
In times of difficulty, we can try to use writing to shape painful experiences into something moving and in this way, writing can sometimes allow us to turn pain into peace. Indeed, the writing process, even more than the result, can be a powerful tool in building a coherent and powerful narrative that better allows us to see, understand, and even change our lives.