One of the exercises I write about in The Journal Writer’s Handbook is called Back in Time. It’s an opportunity to reflect and get in touch with the stuff you used to love as a kid – and perhaps recognise how much or how little of that you’re doing in your current life.
Of course, when you think back to childhood activities it might be a bit of a stretch to consider what the adult version of it might be – but have a go. You are bound to come up with something. When I wrote the book I was into cycling, and remembering how riding my bike used to be the thing I would spend most of my time doing at the age of 13.
The idea is, that if you feel in a bit of a rut, you might find inspiration from your childhood to shake things up a bit – a new hobby or pastime, or something to give you a clue about a new experience you might try.
Adolescent shyness and adult shame are terrible accomplices in knocking out our inner child. If we listen too closely to them we very readily lose our childlike sparkle unnecessarily. Reflective writing affords us the space to take a step back from our daily routine and gain a new perspective about what inspires us.
As well as bike-riding as a kid I used to love writing and performing comedy sketches with my friends at school. And ever since even younger I used to enjoy singing, dancing, performing and entertaining. I would always find an audience wherever I could.
At the age of 48 some might say I’d missed the boat to get on the stage. But then, 8 weeks ago, I saw an ad for a stand-up comedy course in my local area and I didn’t think twice about signing up. Maybe I would have thought twice if I’d realised from the get-go that I would be performing my first ever stand-up gig to a paying audience only two months later. But now I’ve done it I’m glad the temptation to not bother never crossed my path.
The course itself was excellent and the support from the coach and the other participants was brilliant, despite everyone feeling various degrees of terrified. It surprised me how much structure there is in joke writing, and how precise it needs to be, with as few words as possible. Brevity being the soul of wit and all.
On the night of the performance I thought I was going to die from an adrenaline overdose 30 seconds before I went on stage. My mind was blank and I couldn’t remember my first line. But once I was on stage and connecting with the audience it felt awesome. Everyone looked so engaged and happy – it was very encouraging. Hearing people laugh and applaud my jokes was a great feeling – and unexpected.
Afterwards I felt euphoric, relieved, and really proud of myself and the group. I also felt like a bit of a superhero in the eyes of my friends who all told me I was brilliant.
In the week since doing the gig I’ve noticed that I’m a lot less guarded with things that I say – I just come out with it without worrying what people think. I was always a bit like that anyway, but having done the gig gives me even more confidence and attitude!! I might lose friends…
The experience definitely got me back in touch with my ballsy inner child, and I would heartily recommend it to anyone whose idea of fun is to do something that scares you everyday.
Whatever you find when you go back in time in your journal could hold the key to a new lease of life. Go for it!
For more information and inspiration about stand-up visit http://www.saraharcher.co.uk/Titter