We have such a fixation with right and wrong, truth and make-believe. We have a block around making stuff up. We learn that it is wrong to lie and thus we resist telling stories.
Now if you’re an accountant or a barrister or a doctor this is probably a good philosophy by which to practise your profession. But if you’re a writer, or a person who wishes to be more creative, or someone who wants to release themselves from a difficult episode in their past, then resistance to ‘making things up’ can cost you dear.
The realisation that as a writer I can make stuff up did not come easily to me. There were stories I wanted to tell about my ancestors, about the place I grew up, about things that had happened to my family. But I felt blocked. How could I tell a story if I didn’t know exactly how it started and finished, or exactly what happened in the middle?
As soon as I realised that I could make stuff up I experienced a huge sense of liberation. And this doesn’t just work for creative fiction writing, it also works in my journal too.
Paradoxically, since I’ve allowed myself to make things up in my journal I now get to truth quicker. This works because in my journal it is my truth, not an objective, universal truth than generally exists, although the more I journal the more universal my truth appears.
But what do I mean about making things up in my journal? Doesn’t that just defeat the object of journaling? How can I raise my self-awareness by lying?
These are all valid challenges. So let me explain. The things I don’t make up in my journal are how I’m feeling or the way I’m seeing a certain situation. These are things that require documenting as faithfully as possible.
But I might allow myself to make up that my grandmother is my guardian angel, or that the beloved piano my great aunt used to play has something to say about her passing. I might hold these things as my truth.
This being the case I can allow myself to take ‘dictation’ from my grandmother in my journal whenever I need some angelic guidance, or I can write as my auntie’s piano in order to help heal my grief. Bringing a question to my grandmother and allowing myself to write back as her is where much inspiration and comfort can emerge. (Although sometimes what she has to say to me is not too comfortable – she always had a great knack for rumbling me!)
I don’t need to wrack my brains to remember what she used to say to me in real life, nor do I need to analyse too deeply or think too hard about what an inanimate piano might have to say. I just need to allow the sense I have of these things to come through.
When we’re writing our journal, we’re in control and we can draw our inspiration from wherever our imagination allows us to go. One thing’s for certain though, by resisting rather than allowing ourselves to make things up and allow our inner resourcefulness to come through, we’re missing a trick.