We are storytellers. Whether we provide a laugh-out-loud escape, or share an emotional, hard-won lesson, the goal is memorable writing.
Feeling the story is the most powerful way to write. Yet it’s easy to lose touch with emotional resonance, to write from a distance. Perhaps you need a trance dance with your heart.
I’ve been invited back, this time to present, “Hypnotic Recall Fills The Creative Well.” In my workshop I will use guided imagery exercises to mine memories for sensory details and emotions. Self-hypnosis, meditation, guided imagery, and trance are all the same things, and the process is already familiar to you. You daydream, right?
In the creative process you enter that place where scenes flash along in vivid detail and outside reality is suspended temporarily. Then you put fingers to keyboard and share what you “just saw.” That’s self-hypnosis, and a deep reverie can be productive.
In 1990 I was certified in hypnotherapy because of my curiosity about the mind-body connection. I learned to write guided imageries, using words that soothed the senses, to induce an awake but highly relaxed state of mind. The greater the relaxation, the more vivid the recall experience.
Years later as a syndicated columnist and author, I realized its direct connection to writing. The stillness is a realm in which to gather up textures, sounds, mannerisms, words, and emotions to enliven your stories.Often, the meaning of a past experience is made clear.
A writer’s goal is to capture an experience and to bring the reader right into the scene. We endeavor to answer the reader’s question, “Why are you telling me this?” So we navigate our way to the heart of the story. If you feel it, you can convey it.
Years ago, I continually failed in my own efforts to experience meditation. My mind was a gerbil set afire in a bathtub. During hypnotherapy training it felt liberating the first time someone guided me into total relaxation. Now I can return to it any time on my own.
Much later, as a professional writer, I began applying such techniques to my own work. The greatest compliment I’ve ever received was from my friend, the late Jeff Zaslow, who told me, “You write with a lot of heart.”
So why not help others with this unique strategy? When I offered a guided imagery workshop in 2010 for EBWW, it was rewarding to hear how new friends were able to finish challenging chapters, to recall memories rich with meaning, and to even pen for the first time very painful episodes.
Recently, due to persistent requests, I finally produced “Suzette Standring: A Writers’ Meditation CD,” which offers two guided imagery exercises; one for complete relaxation, and the second is specific to creative writing. It’s gratifying to create a new tool for the storytelling process. You can find out more about it on my website, the only place where it is available.
I look forward to seeing old and new friends this year at the EBWW. Be a daydream believer. You owe it to your readers.
—Suzette Martinez Standring
Suzette Martinez Standring is a syndicated columnist with GateHouse News Service, award-winning author of The Art of Column Writing and part of the 2012 Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop faculty.