“Joel will struggle in this area ongoingly.”
This was a comment that appeared on Joel Levin’s school report cards in primary school in regards to writing. By today’s definitions and system, the school-aged Joel would likely be diagnosed with dyslexia – a label used to define significant and ongoing difficulties with writing, spelling and reading. Joel’s difficulty with writing was not given this label at the time that he was at school, though he more than likely would receive this diagnosis if going through the schooling system today.
And yet, it is commentary like ‘artistry, wisdom, accessibility and sheer brilliance’ that is now spoken about in regards to Joel’s writing. Joel has written over 60 blogs in the last several years, numerous articles for various websites, has written and published his first novel, co-authored a national health plan and is now involved in running programs that support people to develop their written expression online.
Joel’s story, at the outset, seems a paradoxical one. Most people who struggle with reading and writing at school continue this struggle throughout life – impacting their careers, relationships and self-worth. So how did Joel arise out of that which serves as a life-long cap on the expression of so many. . . ?
How Joel did it, is actually remarkably simple and all starts with the fact that his expression was never ‘disordered’ to begin with.
In Joel’s experience, it wasn’t the reading and writing itself that was difficult for him at school, but the way in which it was taught. There are a myriad of rules and conventions that govern how words should look, sound and engage a reader, adding significant complexity to the process of writing and reading.
So what changed for Joel?. . . Joel essentially arose out of his ‘dyslexia’ by giving himself the space to find his own voice. This started with becoming more aware of who he was, beyond a report card, job or relationship. Along the way, he also dedicated himself to recognising and removing the mostly self-imposed roadblocks that stood in the way of an absolute gold mine of wisdom and expression. The less Joel tried to write for the approval of others or to satisfy the rules of written English, the easier it became to express through writing.
When supporting others to step into their own true ability to express, Joel encourages people to get the words and ideas down, however they may come out, and worry about the phrasing and grammar later. . In his own words:
Expression builds expression. Don’t judge your work, get the concept down first – the concept is what other people need to hear – that is the gift, the structure and syntax is just packaging. – Joel Levin
Reading, writing and written expression were always there for Joel, as they are for us all – we just need to give ourselves the space to let it develop and change the story we tell ourselves about how we ‘should’ write.
If you are interested in this topic, Joel has presented a workshop on writing that will be available as an online presentation at College of Universal Medicine. Sign up for email updates to be notified when this course is available.
Written By Kathryn Maroney with Joel Levin