Starting with the very first writing assignment in my first online course, (English Composition on coursera.org) I was asked to create a ‘Writing Timeline’. The assignment was to reflect on a number of experiences which were significant enough to impact the way I thought about writing, whether good or bad.

I gained motivation to continue pursuing writing through this project as I noticed pieces of my life fitting together to form this beautiful picture that is God’s plan. I was also very touched by my ability to recall some old stories.

One thing you should know about me, I have a terrible memory. Part of the reason I forget so easily is I don’t (or didn’t) take the time to reflect on my experiences.

Moments I didn’t realize I would forget, I forgot. Memories I didn’t think were anything other than mundane were lost. Trips with family, conversations with friends, and experiences that changed me as a person were remembered only at a macro level without any of the details that made those experiences so worthwhile. By journaling consistently and increasing my intentionality, I’ve found I remember a lot more than I thought, I just hadn’t given myself the mental space to recall it.

Without further ado here are some of the most impactful writing moments on my Writing Timeline.

  1. In fourth grade, I wrote a mean note to a girl in my class with the help of two other classmates. To make myself feel better, and to prevent you from labeling me as a bully, I’ll throw the other girls under the bus and have you know it wasn’t my idea. I certainly took part, however, which I suppose does make me a bully. After going home and thinking about what we had done, I tearfully confessed to my parents when the guilt continued to build. Their sweet, patient advice lead me to apologize to the girl the next day and begin distancing myself from those particular “friends.” My first writing memory is not a very positive one. Since then, I’m happy to report, I’ve used writing much more constructively. I still write about people, but now I write about how they are inspiring, caring, and all around lovely people whom my readers should admire.
  2. In high school, I went on a mission trip to Dallas, TX and thanks to advice from my grandfather (Far Far) I journaled every day of that trip. “Trust me. You think you’ll remember all the things you do, but you’ll forget. You’ll be happy you wrote it down,” he said. So I wrote it all down just like he said, and I can’t thank my grandpa enough for his advice. It applied, not only to that trip but to the rest of my life. He instilled in me a passion for writing before I even knew it. My grandpa has since passed away but was an avid writer himself. Someday I’ll dedicate a post just to writing about him.
  3.  My first “real job” out of college was working for a small non-profit as the Development and Community Relations Coordinator. I did fundraising and other community-based projects such as event planning and public relations. Once, I nominated my boss for an award by submitting a written essay. At the ceremony, they read my nomination when they announced she won. Don’t get me wrong my boss was, and still is, fantastic, but the prideful part of me thinks, “I wrote a kick-butt nomination and that’s why she won.” It was a moment where I felt truly proud about something I had written. Even though few people knew it was mine, the nomination was read out loud to a room filled with hundreds of people and that was enough for me.
  4. When Far Far passed away (Far Far is Swedish for Grandfather- meaning my “Father’s Father” – I come from a long line of Swedes) I was thinking of some words I’d want to share with my family about him. I remember riding in a car soon before his funeral. I had my journal with me and as I was reflecting, the words just started coming, so I wrote it all down. I ended up reading those words at his funeral, almost unedited, and they have come to mean a great deal to me and my entire family. Just another example of Grandpa helping me along my path as a writer.
  5. Now I largely write for work (until I started this blog that is). I write newsletters, website content, emails, social media copy, member feature-stories, articles for our magazine, and more. I started to receive compliments for this writing more often, and during one of these complimentary conversations was really the first time I thought about writing as a skill I could improve and use for personal and professional fulfillment. All this lead to beginning the process of taking online writing courses, starting a blog, and setting some big goals. So, thank you to those who encouraged me so sweetly during this time, your compliments will ring in my ears for years to come.

 

Now, I want to encourage you to take some time to reflect on your own life. I know for a fact you’ve had really impactful experiences you haven’t thought about in a long time. Think about them now, reflect, reminisce and if it works for you, write. You’ll be glad you did.

KirstenElsa