It's hard to believe that 2019 has come to a close and we're already headed into the second decade of this century. My father used to tell me that time goes faster the older we get, and I'm starting to believe him more and more.

For me, it's been an interesting year, in that there were many emotional and physical shifts for myself and many of my loved ones. On a personal level, my fourth grandchild, Nico Ernesto Edward (my father's namesake), was born, and he's been a wonderful addition to our family. He has a magical and calming disposition, as did my father. In addition, we have a new four-legged addition to the family, a mini poodle, Pepper, who brings a lot of life to our 12-year-old Maltese, Spunky.

Being aware of the aging process and the passage of time has been up front in my mind, as I think seriously about what I want my upcoming life chapters to look like. I've been reading a lot of poems and have decided to commit myself to writing even more. My rhythm in this regard is that I usually write many poems at once, and then I might not write any for months at a time.

In 2019, I've also spent a great deal of time being mindful of the importance of gratitude and giving thanks for all the wonder around me. I've also realized the increased need for kindness, compassion, and generosity of spirit. As Maya Angelou wisely said, "People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

I want to take this opportunity to express my gratitude for your readership and support in 2019! Wishing you a wonderful holiday season!
Creatively Yours,
Madisyn Taylor:  How can writing help to heal and transform us?

Diana Raab:  This is a big and very important question. When we're navigating challenging times or grappling with tough decisions, we all have our own ways of surmounting what seems insurmountable. There are those who seek the assistance of a psychotherapist, while others might request the advice of a trusted friend or relative. Journal writing is yet another way to achieve clarity and answers. It's a mindful practice, a way to give voice to one's feelings and thoughts. It's also a way to reclaim one's voice after being silenced. Many writers view their journals as their confidants and best friends.

The act of writing also allows for the release of stress and can bring about immediate comfort. Sometimes journal entries stay as mere entries, but other times they become the building blocks for future memoirs. Writing a memoir is healing because we look back and examine our life-changing or pivotal experiences to see how they've transformed us. We begin by recounting our memories and then incorporate reflection into our narrative, using our current-day lens. This can create a new narrative, and in the case of trauma or other psychological and physical challenges, it can help shift our perspective. Writing helps us increase our self-awareness and also offers deeper insights that lead to both healing and transformation. Sometimes memories from our past experiences become blurred, and writing can help us organize our thoughts. This can lead to a deeper understanding of events that have transformed us and start the healing process.

Along with healing comes transformation. Transformation has to do with a dramatic change for the better in your overall sense of well-being, thus leading to a harmonious state of mind. It entails being aware of, facing, and accepting responsibility for your thoughts and feelings. Writing is a powerful tool for going deep into that process. The idea of writing for transformation is about setting out on a new journey for yourself, almost like packing your suitcase to visit a new land. It's about being alert, mindful, and aware of your innermost feelings, while using your senses to express yourself. For example: What do you feel? What do you see? What do you hear? What do you sense? What do you smell? What touches you? Sometimes when we look back at our lived experiences, it's easier to see them in the grand universal spectrum of life rather than as isolated events.

Course Overview
There is only one person in this world who can tell your story you. Finding your voice and sharing your truth through writing will not only help you make sense of your life and possibly help you heal, but it can also enable you to focus on what's most important to you and help you determine your reason for being which will ultimately lead to a profound sense of contentment.

Course components:

  • Receive 1 lesson every week for 8 weeks (8 lessons total).
  • Have lifetime access to the course for reference whenever you want.
  • Select the amount you can afford, and receive the same course as everyone else.
  • If you're not 100% satisfied, you may request a refund.

MT:  In your course, you offer tips for getting into the writing zone. Every writer I know, myself included, can have trouble getting into the zone. Talk to me about this.

DR:  This is a major concern, and all professional writers have their ways of getting into the creative zone. There are a number of things that can help. I believe it's important to set rituals prior to writing. Different ones work for different people, and you may have to see what works for you. Before sitting down to write, I also suggest engaging in a centering ritual. Each lesson in this course begins with a short, guided meditation to ground the student. Other rituals that can be used include playing gentle music to assist with concentration or drinking a cup of tea or coffee in other words, something that sends a signal to the brain that it's time to write.

It's also a good idea to try to write every day, keeping in mind that it doesn't have to be the same project that you're working on. For example, you can record your thoughts in a journal; or write a letter, poem, essay, or (start) your memoir. The important thing is to keep the words flowing. If you think of the act of writing as a muscle, then you'll understand that to stay in shape, you need to exercise that muscle regularly.

MT:  Speaking your emotional truth and finding your authentic voice is so important in memoir writing, but it can also be very difficult. What do you teach students who struggle with this issue?

DR:  You're right. This can be challenging. It's important to point out that the authentic voice and emotional truth are different. Your authentic voice is your true and compelling voice. It's your real voice, the one you use when sitting across a table at a restaurant with a friend, sharing your story. On the page, the authentic voice is easy to read because it's easy to follow. If you're having difficulty finding your authentic voice, you might want to try reading your work in front of a mirror or speaking out loud while you're writing. If something feels off, then maybe you're not using your authentic voice. Sometimes people try to add flowery or big words to make them sound smarter or more intellectual, but when writing a memoir, this isn't necessary. The important thing is that your story sounds like you; plus, you want it to resonate with your readers.

Another way to tap into your authentic voice is to place a photo of someone who means a lot to you on your desk. For example, if you were very close to your grandmother, perhaps you'll want to write as if you're speaking to her directly.

Writing from your emotional truth means tapping into what comes from your heart, not just from your mind. The emotional truth in your memoir is the crux of how you feel about what happened to you. We each have our own emotional truth, even if we've gone through the same experience with someone else. It's important to listen to the messages of your heart and not write what you think others want to hear. Instead, write what your heart is telling you. While writing, try to say to yourself, "Here is how I see it," or "This is how it happened to me."

For your memoir to resonate with others, it's a good idea to visualize readers walking side-by-side with you. Try to provide as many details as possible. What is not said can be more harmful and more confusing than what is said. Writing that is not written with emotional truth is often not compelling. It has little energy or vitality. It might sound like journalistic reporting and not a memoir, a genre where feelings and reflections are very important. As you write the narrative of the memoir, it's also important to share universal truths that comprise wisdom and forms of awareness that unite us as humans which readers can truly relate to.

MT:  Tell me about the homework you offer in this course and how it will help students.

DR:  Each of the homework assignments relates to some aspect of writing a memoir. Many people who are compelled to write a memoir often tell me that they've had such an interesting life that they can't decide what to write about first. My homework assignments help memoirists focus on those transformative or pivotal moments that have had a lasting impact on their lives. A transformative moment is one that changes the way we look at things or people and evokes strong memories and emotions. I suggest that people write about the experience that holds the most energy for them at the time of writing. The writing assignments encourage a great deal of reflection. I also guide students to get into the writing zone, or the "mood" of writing. This is sometimes very challenging for those who are trying to carve out time to write their memoirs in the midst of their busy personal and professional lives. My writing exercises help students identify what inspires and motivates the practice of writing and teaches them how to tap into those channels of energy where creativity resides.

MT:  In Lesson 7, you teach about "what to include" in your story as well as "what not to include."

DR:  For some people, this can be a very challenging part of writing a memoir. For the first draft, I recommend including everything , to the best of your knowledge, and to write without editing. You can think about editing during subsequent drafts. That is, in that first draft, just let it rip. While it's important to include details of your story as a way to make it vivid to the reader, it's really only necessary to include details that move the story forward. This will keep your readers' interest. In other words, all the details should pertain to the focus or theme of your memoir.

The other issue that sometimes arises during the memoir-writing process is being concerned about sharing private or hurtful information about others. It's impossible to write a memoir without writing about other people, but I suggest you write first and edit later . If you're uncomfortable with your portrayal of others in later drafts, you can choose to revise or remove these excerpts, especially if you're considering publishing. Some writers also change the names of the individuals involved in order to protect their privacy. Others might decide to wait to write a memoir until the individuals in question have transitioned. These are choices only you can make. There is no right or wrong. It's what feels comfortable to you, as you are the one who needs to live with your decision.

MT:  I would love to hear about some of the responses you've received after people have taken this course.

DR:  The responses to this course have been quite meaningful. Many people say they were surprised about what emerged from their subconscious mind during the writing process. There were a lot of answers unleashed for them. For example, they might have started writing about one thing but ended up writing about something else. This is one of the most wonderful aspects of the writing journey the surprises that emerge along the way.

Some people say they're also surprised by how much writing my prompts elicit. They just write and write and write. Most often, it's a matter of just beginning. Some have said that they've felt magic emerge during the writing process, and this has been life-changing for them. Others said that they felt a memoir brewing inside of them, and this course was a great kick-start for that process. One particular student said that for 20 years she's wanted to write her memoir. She had registered for a number of courses but didn't get very far with them. She decided to tap into DailyOM and was immediately drawn to this course. After the first lesson, she said she was so glad to begin here and that she felt the magic awaiting. She expressed gratitude for the inspiration and wisdom that this course has offered her.

Many of my students have been journaling for a long time and suddenly felt compelled to write a memoir but didn't know what to do with the entries or how to begin writing, and this course helped them do just that.

MT: Thank you, Diana, for taking the time to speak with me. Writing is such a powerful way to express ourselves and help heal the parts of us that remain in pain or hidden. Diana is a wonderful and gracious teacher, and I encourage all of my readers to begin writing. Until next time.

Be well,
Madisyn Taylor
Cofounder, Editor-in-Chief
For more information, visit:
  • Write about your favorite holiday memory.
  • Write about the best gift you gave someone.
  • Write about a happy holiday experience from your childhood.
  • Write a letter to someone who passed away this past year.
"Why Is Thanksgiving Important?" (blog). Thrive Global. November 12, 2019.
"How Returning to School as an Adult Changed My Life" (essay). The Raven Review. November 18, 2019.
"Gratitude Rituals During the Holidays " (blog). Psychology Today . November 26, 2019.
Hippie by Paulo Coelho (fiction). This book is very timely given that this is the 50th anniversary of Woodstock and the hippie movement. This book attracted the hippie in me, who blasted music, had psychedelic posters and strobe lights in my bedroom, wore beads around my neck, and vowed to never again wear shoes. Coelho always reminds us of what's important in life, like being one with the universe and the struggle for justice and humanity. This book reminds me of how we lived in parallel universes during the hippie movement and how so many of us connected with a common theme of love and not war . . . how I miss those times!
I've partnered with DailyOM to offer an exclusive 8-part course:

Write. Heal. Transform:
A Magical Memoir-Writing Course

Learn about the power of writing to heal and transform. Be inspired to share the story that only you can tell!

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