Writing for Bliss:
A Seven-Step Plan for Telling Your Story
and Transforming Your Life

by Diana Raab

Loving Healing Press, 2017. ISBN 978-1-615-99323-9.
Reviewed by Mary Ann Moore
Posted on 09/05/2017

Nonfiction: Creative Life

Diana Raab quotes Joseph Campbell in the preface to Writing for Bliss: "If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living."

In the introduction, Raab points out that "bliss" is "about learning what brings you joy, which is often connected to what you were meant to do with your life—your calling." Another way of following your bliss she says is to "follow your heart or to listen to your authentic inner voice" which she describes in more detail in the third step entitled "Speaking Your Truth."

Raab began writing in a journal when she was ten years old to help her deal with the suicide of her grandmother who had been her caretaker in her childhood home. Her grandmother had also been a journal keeper and it was Raab's mother who bought a red leather journal for her daughter so she could write what she was going through. Raab realized that writing about her grandmother was healing "as it allowed me to honor her and keep her alive, and it was also a way to come to some resolution about her suicide."

Raab continued to appreciate the healing effects of writing and the subject of her dissertation research was "the healing and transformative powers of personal narrative." She includes references to many writers including the ones she interviewed: Maxine Hong Kingston, Alexandra Styron, Kim Stafford, Monika Wesolowska and Mark Matousek.

Each chapter has writing prompts with additional prompts in the appendix. Whether or not readers will go on to publish their work, they will benefit from the many suggestions Raab offers such as "Creating a Sacred Space" and various techniques such as Mindfulness Meditation that that can help people with their own sense of self-awareness.

In Step Four "Examining Your Life," Raab says that writing "also helps me discover meaning and find a container for my experiences. Writing as a spiritual practice is very liberating and satisfying." With the guidance Raab offers, readers will have an opportunity to explore and perhaps realize, the gifts that introspection can bring. As Raab says: "Writing your story activates the narrating part of your mind and thus can increase your sense of well-being, whether you share your writing with others or not."

In Step Five, "Finding Your Form," Raab describes various types of journals one can keep as well as essay writing, blogging, memoir and fiction writing.

As "poetry is the voice of the soul," Raab says, she has included "Unleashing with Poetry" as step six.

Raab's hope is that readers will become inspired to write "during their joyous and difficult times, while also experimenting with different genres and ways of writing and being."

In the final chapter "Sharing Your Writing," Raab says that when she began sharing her story she felt the intensity of her loss "and I began to integrate it into my life."

Tips on "Revising and Editing" are included as well as advice about "Showing Drafts to Others. Under the heading of "Publishing Basics," Raab points out that "if you write from your heart and write what you are passionate about, the chances of getting your work published and enjoyed by others are greater than if you write about a given subject because you think you should."

That's good advice from someone who has found writing to be a spiritual and wellness practice and led to the publishing of her work to inspire others. Many will benefit from the wisdom and encouragement Diana Raab shares in Writing for Bliss.

Diana Raab, PhD, is an award-winning memoirist, poet, blogger, workshop facilitator, thought provoker, and survivor. She's the author of eight books and over one thousand articles and poems. She lives in Southern California. Visit her website.

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