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March Newsletter of Personal Essay Writing
Vol. 17, No.3 March 2017
© 2017 Carol Celeste All Rights Reserved ISSN 2168-7854

Well Art

* Carol's Comments
* Memoir Quote
* "Jigsaw Jousting Your Stories"
* Course Offerings
* Personal Essay Topic to Write About NOW
* "Writing for Others"
* Become a Licensee
* Therapeutic Writing Fact
* Markets
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          Follow writingtoheal on Twitter

Much is written about the health value of writing, especially writing personal stories, but most of it comes from two types of sources. One group consists of professionals who cite studies that offer solid evidence that appears in professional journals. You read about the work of that group in the therapeutic facts column and occasional articles in The Writing Well. The other group consists of people who experience the power of writing by doing it with no idea why they feel better after writing their stories, they just know they do. They often comment on the unexpected good feelings they gained from writing about their lives, but they don't often realize the benefits they provide others through their work. The article "Writing for Others" explains how you can help others while helping yourself through writing.

"Jigsaw Jousting Your Stories"gives tips for giving your stories a sound structure, something many writers struggle to achieve, that aids in sharing therapy value for those who read your work. Whether you're working on a personal essay or a memoir in book form, the jigsaw method helps you piece together the bigger picture of your life and allows readers to piggyback on your written therapy session.

Then share your stories with the world. Find paying markets for your gems on page 4 and posted on the website at Write to heal, write to grow, write to reflect,
Carol Celeste
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Memoir Quote: "Writing essays is like therapy because you’re figuring out: What was the important thing in the incident?" Etgar Keret, author The Seven Good Years
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All courses are conducted by email and begin every Friday. Compare the prices to other online personal essay courses and you'll realize the value offered. Meidabistro=$499, Gotham Writers Workshop=$395,$295 and up, Truby's=$449 to name a few. Don't wait another day. To register now or order a course as a gift visit Writing Courses.
These courses are now offered:
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WTH,WTG writers say...

"I did not feel intimidated by a classroom setting while I am going through a grieving process."

"...the anonymity of the Internet makes a person feel less 'exposed' when writing about personal topics."

"I appreciated the comments received on the homework assignments. They were given in a gentle, nurturing way, yet offered concrete suggestions for improvement."

"I have learned to think more about the descriptive process of words to evoke a precise emotion."
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ARTICLE - "Jigsaw Jousting Your Stories"
A technique called jigsaw jousting can help structure a compelling life story. Here's how.
Personal Essays. Once you choose a theme for your essay, the jigsaw technique can fill in the pieces needed to craft a satisfying story. For example, a jigsaw for a story about growing up with divorced parents might contain pieces labeled confused, fear of abandonment, loyalty, anger, low confidence, blaming self. These labels represent the feelings a child might experience when splitting time between parents, or seldom seeing one parent. The size of each puzzle piece should reflect the importance of the label to the writer’s development. Use abbreviations if the number of letters in a label requires more room than the importance of the entry. For example, fear of abandonment might become, abndmt, a kind of text-ese, if that played a minor role and occupied a small piece of the puzzle. The jigsaw shows you what feelings you consider major life-shapers and, therefore, deserve the focus of your tale. You can then add examples of what invoked each feeling and how you reacted to create scenes and bring your story to life for readers. This technique works with any emotional theme, whether tragic, gleeful or humorous. Your pieces may also work in the opposite direction. Label the puzzle pieces with events and expand them with the feelings and actions invoked.

Memoirs. Jigsaw jousting shapes a memoir in a more general way than it does a personal essay. In this genre, the theme might be broader and require events that relate to your theme. Take a memoir on growing up on a farm. The jigsaw might include chores, school, play, punishment as aspects of your childhood experience. The size of each piece tells what contributed most to the person you became, directing the course your memoirs follows. It also helps you decide what to leave out, either because it plays a minor role in your life, or doesn't fit the theme. If several events come to mind that seem off topic, consider a second memoir. Memoirs deal with segments, not complete lives, and the jigsaw technique keeps you from straying.

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Looking for something to write about? Here's a topic to inspire your inner self to emerge.

Write about your favorite craft or why you don't engage in craft work at all.
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ARTICLE - "Writing Your Stories for Others"
What motivates you to write your life stories, or at least to think about life-writing? There are many reasons why people express their inner selves in written words, some obvious, some you may not have thought about.

One comment I often see is the therapeutic value of digging deep and expressing our thoughts and feelings in written words. This isn't an intended result when the writing begins, but becomes evident during or after the writing. Many posts and articles about personal essay or memoir say the writer found the project therapeutic. These are not people who have studied the practice as professionals or been involved in studies as subjects. These comments come from people who decided to write about an experience to share with others or to record it for personal gain. Therapeutic benefits were not the writers' intentions or expectations. They were discoveries revealed in the writing process.

Maybe you knew the practice of life-writing, especially about difficult situations, offers therapeutic value and first engaged in it for that reason. But do you ever wonder what readers gain from other people’s self-exploration?

One reason true personal stories are so popular with readers is the lessons they learn from the writers' insights, or lack of in some cases. Your readers may see something in your story that you missed or they may find themselves in a similar situation and learn from how you handled it. The circumstances don't have to be identical for others to benefit from your approach. Similarities exist in how to deal with many diverse situations.

Your work will only benefit others if you are honest with them and yourself as you examine why you feel and act the way you do. The need for honesty prevents many from embarking on personal writing. Sometimes we don't want to face the grim facts. Ignoring an uncomfortable situation is easier than dealing with it even when we know life would be better if we could resolve the problem. Those situations are the ones that we most need to be addressed.

I'm not suggesting you set out to advise others with your writing, which would give it a different feel and direction. But be aware that those reading your work, in addition to curiosity about your life experiences, are looking for and finding information to help them in their lives. That is one of the draws of personal writing. So, as you edit your stories, think about the good they may offer to readers as well as to the writer.
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Looking for extra income while you help people? Writing to Heal, Writing to Grow licenses let you set your own hours as a workshop facilitator. All instructions provided. Individuals, facilities and associations may lead these easy-to-conduct therapeutic writing workshops.

Individuals, facilities and associations may license and conduct these easy-to-lead therapeutic writing and discussion programs:

* Writing for Wellness - Why wait until a specific condition strikes to write to heal? Writing helps maintain good health. This four-week expressive writing and discussion course is designed to help adults maintain good health by: reducing stress levels, improving immune system function, working through negative emotional issues, and increasing working memory. Clinical studies indicate that those who are coached in expressive writing show the greatest improvement in stress levels and memory function. Learn more at: Wellness.
* Writing About Cancer - promotes healing and growth for patients and survivors. Visit Cancer to learn more.
* Writing for Personal Caregivers - contributes to stress reduction and coping. Visit Caregivers to learn more.
* Writing for Health Care Professionals - may be eligible for CEUs in your area. Visit Care Professionals to learn more.

You do not need to have special education to be a successful facilitator. What you do need is compassion for people, a desire to help others face their demons and heal, and the ability to talk to others in a group setting and market the workshops. All courses promote personal healing and/or growth. Each license comes with lecture material, a step-by-step facilitator guide, handouts and an evaluation survey. Begin your new career helping others. Email Licensing for details.
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Therapeutic Writing Fact
From: Health Psychology, Vol 30 (5), Sep 2011, 642-650, "Effects of expressive writing following first myocardial infarction: A randomized controlled trial" by Willmott, "It was found that the expressive writing subjects went for significantly less provider and hospital visits, went for more rehabilitation sessions, had less cardiac symptoms, and had lower diastolic blood pressure when evaluated 5 months after their MI [myocardial infarction]. This group also were progressively on less medication as time passed, while the control group subjects were on more. Another benefit reported by the expressive writing group was that they were experiencing a greater sense of well-being."
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Contact the source listed for details and to request guidelines. An extensive list of paying markets for personal essays appears at Markets. Writing to Heal,Writing to Grow does not screen or endorse these listings. Submit at your own risk and always check guidelines first. Good luck! If a link doesn't work search for the title.
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LitMag takes memoir/essays for print and online editions. Print info No fee. See details at LitMag.

Brain, Teen pays $350 for personal essays of between 1,000 and 4,000 words about parenting teens (13 and up) or having been a teen. This award-winning print magazine likes "exquisite detail, vivid scenes and spot-on dialogue." All accepted essays eligible for the Best of Brain Teen contest with a $1,000 prize. Learn more at Brain, Teen.

C.G. Jung Society of St. Louis writing contest has a May 1 deadline, $10 fee, for personal essays up to 3,500 words. Winning entries may be read at an October conference and will be published on the website. Prizes: $1,000, $500, $250. A Jungian perspective encouraged. See the details at C.G. Jung Society of St. Louis.

Chicken Soup for the Soul publishes anthologies filled with personal experiences of every type and pays $200 for those accepted. Check the site periodically for current works-in-progress. Several are listed now with varied deadlines, some as early as March 31. Check guidelines and current topics at . Chicken Soup.

Share personal essay markets you know about. Email them to and I'll add them to the website list.
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