Guidelines

In May 2010, when we started having our writing sessions, we also had some ground rules to guide us. These guidelines may be applied to our blog although some thoughts are obviously applicable to group meetings in person. They are as follows:

  1. We want to explore and express our innermost thoughts and emotions through writing and other activities so as to gain a deeper understanding of self  and of our relationship with God.
  2. We  acknowledge that every good and perfect gift comes from God. All of us are writers and we seek to glorify God in our search for Him through our  writing of our sacred stories and our sharing with one another.
  3. We  come before the Lord and in humility we acknowledge that we have not always been aware of His presence and actions in our lives. In our writing,  we seek to go into any time in our lives and allow the Lord to show how He was (and always is) present as He has promised.
  4. We want to find time to write each day – even five or ten minutes each morning is a good start. We can journal our thoughts for the day each  night too before we sleep. We see that journaling is also a gift of the  Holy Spirit.
  5. We  will write and we will accept what we write. We will be gentle with ourselves and we will accept that it is God who gives us the grace to find Him in our writing. Apart from Him, we can do nothing.
  6. When  we write, we can be healed of our pains, we can re-live our joys or we can  be inspired with new ideas. How this is done, we leave it to the Lord. For  sure, we know that our faith journey is not done alone; we walk as a  community of believers.
  7. When  we write, we are actually taking a closer look at our faith journey and recognising that the events in our lives have taken place and that God allowed them to take place. Good or bad, sad or happy, we have somehow been  moulded by all these circumstances. We now entrust the past to God’s mercy, the future to His providence and in the present, we desire to walk more closely with Him.
  8. When  we share, we keep all that we hear confidential. We share in trust and we  expect each one to respect that sharing. We are to accept each piece of  writing as a piece of writing and not as Gospel truth. It does not have to  be what really happened in our lives. In our writing, we have ‘poetic license’ and we can use our imagination to embellish what comes to us as  ideas for stories.
  9. We  do not come to teach or instruct; we do not come to correct or train another; we certainly do not come to criticise or to blame. No, we come to  share our lives, to understand that each life is sacred and that each life is given by God and therefore richly blessed.
  10. It  is our prayer that as we journey together, God will bless us with wisdom  to see His hand in our lives, to accept in faith that even when we do not understand, all events have meaning.
  11. More  than anything else, we want the Lord to guide our thoughts and to inspire us with His ideals for each of our lives. We want to be Spirit-led and to  grow in intimacy with Jesus, our Lord, our Brother, our Friend. “I am with  you, yes, until the end of time”
  12. Hopefully  we can meet on a regular basis. Let us start on 1st May 2010 and may St Joseph pray for us. May our labour in writing and sharing bear good fruit. Praise the Lord!

Our group also had the benefit of some advice from Diana Tan. Diana wrote: 

  1. It’s great that this group is pro-active. Well done!
  2. If it’s anything worthy could I suggest that in your first meeting all of you agree on a structure as to what will happen during these gatherings? For example, if you’re planning just to encourage each other to write, I would suggest you all follow the guidelines like we did in our workshop, that is, no judgement or negative comment on first and raw drafts.
  3. A general mission for the group: are you there just to encourage each other to write? If yes, then “secular” topics (other than God-centred) are allowed. Or are you writing to explore God in your life? Or what else? Think about this so the people who join will know what to expect.
  4. New joiners: will you allow new people into your group? This may not be an issue now but at some stage someone might want to bring a friend, or a person who is totally new to this experience, or someone might want to join from the writing workshops that Ros and I hold at CISC. Will you accept these people?
  5. What to write? You could follow suggestions that are found in books, or you could take turns to call up a topic.
  6. How long to write and length of meetings? This you all discuss and agree on. Appoint a timekeeper!
  7. On the other hand, if one of you really wants feedback about his/her writing because it is going to be published, then I suggest that this be made known to the others for their comments and perhaps suggestion as to how the story or article could proceed. Again, do it gently. Suggestions, comments and general feedback are best left to the person asking for them to pursue. So no pressure should be applied on anyone.

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