How our winner writes

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We asked Umoja Writing Competition 2015 winner Kirsten Leggett to contribute to our blog. It’s another opportunity for our entrants to showcase their writing and be involved in the wider writing and volunteering community.

How our winner writes

I write to understand. It is as simple as that and it is a form of internal processing for me. I love to write, I always have, but my creative writing really ramped up a notch when I started with daily ten minute writing using word prompts. Just a few words, five at the most, and I would wait for the first sentence to form but without too much thought. Once I start to write, I do not stop for ten minutes and I pay little attention to punctuation – just let the words flow. I try not to think about it too much and let it come from the heart.

I continued with this practice for about 6 months straight and now I write this way several times a week. It still works, every time, and I never know how each piece will end. The ending is always the most surprising bit! Sometimes I write beyond ten minutes, other times a little less, but the end result is always surprising and from these exercises stories are often born.  A friend once asked me where I draw my inspiration from. I explained that I never set out to write a story, that words and inspiration generally find me when I allow myself the time to be still. A story or words for a poem can “arrive” at any time, while on a walk, driving in the car, or sitting and enjoying a pot of tea in my garden, but always in moments of stillness.

I have learnt that as humans we can do the most amazing things with words. I think we are born to listen to and tell stories and there is a storyteller deep within each and every one of us.

Kirsten lives and writes in Tasmania. A writer of short stories and poetry, she writes for both enjoyment and for a deeper understanding of what it means to be human. “The Tiny Teacher” was Kirsten’s first short story. Most recent published writing includes “Interloper” (101 words.org) and “Pear Infused with Jasmine” (Flash Fiction Magazine). 

Umoja Writing Competition winner Kirsten Leggett
Kirsten Leggett is the winner of Umoja Writing Competition 2015. Here she is with the winner’s trophy.

Why do YOU write?

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by Lauren Dionysius

Do YOU have stories that burn at your insides?  Words buried deep within your soul?  How do you get them out?  Do they even need to be told?  What is their purpose?

My answers to these questions have always been:  yes, yes, dunno, dunno, not sure….respectively.  I’ve always had words and stories that refused to let me go.  Words that grab me by the hand with the urgency of a two-year-old and plead with me to find pen and paper and just, well…write.  While I’ve always loved to write, I just didn’t know how to get them out and what to do with them once I had.  And, I didn’t even know if my stories needed to be told….maybe I just had a crazy, overactive mind?!  After all, who would want to read my words and would they even help anyone?  This was when I realised the purpose behind my words….to help other people (with the added bonus of clearing that crazy, overactive mind of mine!).  So, I started writing my stories in journals, then began to share with friends and family in a blog, and now bravely, but unashamedly, with the world.

open book of family story

I often think about all the other writers out there and wonder how we can all co-exist together.  Are there enough readers for all of our words?  Why DO people write?  Obviously I cannot answer for others, but this is why I write:

I write about my adventures, my travels and the people I’ve met so I can keep these memories alive.  I share these life experiences to inspire and motivate others to travel and experience new adventures.  I write because it’s cathartic.   My words comfort me like a warm, cozy blanket on a cold night.  They give me a creative outlet to explore my heart and my mind, and teach me more about who I am, so I can grow as a person.   As I write from my heart about past pain and hurt, I learn to heal myself and hope that by sharing them they will resonate with even just one other person out there and help them feel less alone in the world.  This is ALWAYS why I share my words and this gives me the strength to push through the gnawing “what ifs” of rejection and vulnerability and purpose that seem inevitable when you dare to put your words out there for the big, wide world to see.

So, what are your stories?  And, what is stopping you from putting pen to paper?  Remember, no-one else can write how you write and no-one else can write YOUR words into YOUR stories.  Plus, among the billions of people on this planet there will always be someone out there who needs to read what only YOUR words have to say!  This is why all of us writers can co-exist.  There are plenty of readers for all of our words.

No more excuses, okay? Ready….set….GO WRITE!

Lauren Dionysius is a 30-something Registered Nurse chasing bigger dreams.  She’s passionate about writing, bikram yoga and wholefood nutrition and is in the process of combining these into her dream career.  She lives in Bundaberg, Queensland but travels regularly overseas seeking new life experiences, from volunteering in Africa, or a writing retreat in Italy, to yoga in Bali, and studying nutritional healing in the USA.  She thrives on growth and deepening her awareness of world we live in.  She is a writer, an editor & a hungry soul searcher.
Lauren Dionysius, winner of the Inaugural Umoja Writing Competition with her trophy.
Guest Blogger Lauren Dionysius, winner of the Inaugural Umoja Writing Competition with her trophy.