I had the pleasure to chat with the gorgeous Greta Solomon for our upcoming conference, and she shared more about her amazing book ‘Heart, Sass and Soul’.
Greta Solomon is a writer, author, teacher and Journal Healer. Through her books and courses, she guides people to use journaling, writing and creative self-expression to wake up, connect to inner wisdom, and heal the tender, violated parts of their inner worlds.
“My work really is about teaching people to use writing, creativity and creative self expression to really wake up and to heal some of the more tender inner parts of our world” explains Greta Solomon “ and also to more fully get in touch with who we are discovering and recovering those parts of us that we kind of left by the wayside, perhaps in childhood, or perhaps more recently.”
Greta Solomon is a qualified life coach, lyricist, and lifelong learning teacher, and has clocked up thousands of coaching and tutoring hours with her clients. Her writing is peppered with writing exercises to help you write from the head, heart, and soul: ”My books and courses are designed as a sort of safe spaces to explore those issues and find out who you really are and be your true self”
She has a degree in psychology from the University of Warwick, a former career as a women’s magazine journalist and priceless life experience from several years of making a living from acting, modelling, promotions, sales, public relations, and freelance health, lifestyle and travel writing.
“I started out as a journalist, 20 years ago, working in women’s magazines, I worked in two magazines in London. For my second magazine job, it was working at a dream publication, it was a weekly, and national weekly. And it was really fun” she shares.
Although she was good at writing and had been hired as a writer, she felt creatively blocked: “When that ended, I decided to get to the bottom of this and go freelance and explore my creativity. I had this four year period where I was a freelance journalist, and I was going to drama school evenings on evenings and weekends, travelled a lot, I was doing lots of movement and voice and was a travel writer and doing all these things that really unblocked me.”
The true change happened as she studied lyric writing at Berkeley College of Music, and learned a technique called object writing, which is something that songwriters used to get the raw materials for their songs: “by learning that technique, it really completely opened me up and freed up my creativity” she reveals.
Object writing is focusing on your senses. When you go in for a walk, for example, you can look and start noting things.
What do you see, what do you hear? What do you smell? What do you touch if you are touching anything? And also what do you hear his message here? What are you feeling? What’s your inner movement, what’s bubbling up within you?
“This seems so simple, but that’s getting you out of your mind straight to the heart space, when you’re focusing just on what you see” she points out.
During her lyric writing diploma, they did this exercise every single day, they would choose an object like an apple, or a banana, and they would time themselves for 10 minutes, or five minutes or 90 seconds, and write any word related to the object, tapping into all five senses.
When you have that container of time, it puts you under a gentle pressure to give you some time specifically to create and come up with as many ideas (or words in this case) as possible.
If you do this exercise, you’ll find that you learn to tap into your creativity and your self-expression.
Why we often write for the mind
She also offers up spiritual words of wisdom, guidance on how to be not only the author of your own journal but the author of your own life.
”How do I create space for me? And it was about using my own techniques to sort of go with it and say, Well, why have I been this good girl? Why am I not? Haven’t I given myself space in my life, to express myself on a deep personal level?” One of the key models that she mentions in her book is something called the communication pyramid.
That’s a pyramid where you have your mindset at the top. So you have the mind at the top, you have the body, you have the heart level, you have the soul level, and then you have the voice.
The thing that stops most people is that we’re stuck in the mind: “the mind covers things like grammar, writing hacks, all those niggling thoughts you have about yourself, as a writer, like I’m not good at this, or this is hard. And that’s the mind that we would need to really get out of that. And most people are writing from the mind, we actually need to get deeper.”
As she mentioned this, something truly hit me. As a second language writer that really hit me. Whenever I approached writing in the beginning, I was always very wary because I was always second-guessing myself. And that came with my written and my spoken word, and grammar became something that overall stopped me from expressing myself.
“The thing about grammar shaming is to know that it’s never about you. Even if your grammar was really bad, even if you had loads of spelling mistakes.” Solomon explains how you can see it as a technique by the person doing it to make you feel small: “that’s the only reason they do it is to cut you off. It’s never about your grammar anyway, so it gives you a chance to relax. Microsoft has spell checkers, it’s all it’s all good.”
Writing from the body, heart and soul
The body is actually when you’re in your body when you’re moving. And also writing techniques. So it’s also about learning some tools, learning some craft techniques so that you know what you’re doing.
Deeper down, we have the heart level, which is things like the kind of unique words or phrases you might use the expression, what you really want to say. ”A really great way to get into that heart space, no matter whether it’s for business or for yourself, is to literally move your body. And that gets you out of your head straight away.”
One of the tools Greta Solomon recommends a lot is walking and writing. Going for a walk, taking your notebook, taking your iPhone and just jotting down whatever comes to you and learning that, as you’re striding out onto the road with no agenda: “It can really help as well to think about that to have a deeper purpose, that also gets you out of your mind. And then the voice is at the very bottom.”
Journalling and freewriting are a big part of Solomon’s habits and practices, and truly help her put her ideas and feelings into paper.
Writing is one of the few times where you’re actually listening to your own thoughts, listening to your own voice and putting it on a piece of paper, which then makes it real: “It means that you can actually see what you are actually thinking, what are you actually feeling. And it’s so powerful because of that, because you consistently write even if it’s just free writing every day, you’re putting yourself on paper, and you’re allowing yourself to see yourself, and how you see yourself may be different to help other people see you.”
This is truly when you can start to say ‘who do I want to be? Am I this person? I think I am, am I the person that the world thinks I am or then who am I.’
According to Greta Solomon, free writing is the most important thing because is getting out all the junk from your head and getting out all those negative thoughts that you’re thinking: “an exercise I really recommend is, is thinking back to an occasion where someone shamed you about your writing and think, well, who shamed you? Why did they shame you? What effect did it have? What negative thought did you then have?”
She encourages me to change any negative memory into a positive affirmation. For example, if you think writing is not really good, or you’re not that creative, find a positive affirmation is to write on your notebook every day: “Whatever you can do to get your pen writing freely on the page is the most important technique. So I suppose for me, it’s free writing because that’s how I’m feeling the page. But whatever you can do, to free yourself up is what you need to do. And to give yourself a break and be kind to yourself, is really, really important.”
The key message is that self-love and self-acceptance come from discovering and recovering who you are. And the way you do that is through your writing, your creativity and your creative self-expression. As Solomon rightfully adds “when you do that, everything opens up. So it’s just remembering that it’s all there. And it comes from your creativity.”
Greta’s online course is Writing for Creative Self-Expression begins on 21 December, and is enrolling now.
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My name is Fab Giovanetti and I am a writer, author, marketing consultant, founder of the Creative Impact Group and professional troublemaker. I help people grow their online audience and monetise their content and unleash their potentials as creatives.