Have you ever found yourself at a loss for words when you sit down to write?
Whether you are a writer of journals, books, poetry, songs, blogs, business papers, or to-do lists, writers constantly doubt their ability to find the right words for what they need to say. Even more challenging is when we attempt to describe feelings — especially if we don’t actually know what we are feeling, let alone how to describe it. Or perhaps we had an experience long ago that led us to believe we can’t write. No matter how long we’ve been writing, we consistently second and third guess ourselves (just as I have written this opening paragraph at least that many times, trying to get it right).
Do you notice I didn’t ask you if you consider yourself a writer? I did not because here’s the deal: if you write, you are a writer. Being a writer is about the action of writing; not about being “good enough” to be published or famous. If you write in a journal, you are a writer. And what I believe about Writing From the Heart is that it doesn’t matter what you write — it’s always perfect — because it’s a reflection of you in that moment in time.
So ease up on yourself… please.
I want to share with you something I wrote in my writer’s circle the other day, because I still get that feeling of not being good enough every time I share my writing. It was our first meeting, and as I knew we would, we discovered how powerful it is to write to an assigned topic and share our stories and thoughts with each other by reading them aloud. We didn’t all have the same upbringing, we didn’t write the same way, and our viewpoint was different from person to person. But we all shared a common bond of empathy and understanding for each other’s pain. And it made us into a cohesive group of people who could trust each other.
Our topic was, “What three pieces of wisdom would your older self, offer your younger self?”
As I was waiting for my turn to read, my inner critic told me I went completely off topic as I followed the rabbit down the hole. I had a wee bit of worry about how my crazy disconnected scrawlings compared to my fellow writers’ pieces; they all seemed to have three very specific pieces of advice. But I read anyway. Here’s what I wrote (with very few alterations):
Dear l’il kath,
Don’t be afraid to show your authentic self. Not everyone has to like you; nor do you don’t have to like everyone you meet.
I remember a dream I had about 20 years ago, right around the time I was grieving the loss of our Mom. I was standing in front of an old abandoned house. It was dark and kind of scary. The house’s windows had been broken and it appeared haunted.
Suddenly, I felt a tiny hand clutching mine, tightly. I looked down and a little blonde-haired girl was looking at the house with a mixture of fear and wonder. The fear made her her chubby hand sweaty, and it was white from holding mine so tightly. I squeezed her hand slightly to let her know I was there and it was okay; nothing would hurt her. I felt protective of her. I don’t know if we ever advanced towards the house, but I know we were meant to.
When I awoke from that dream I realized that was you l’il kath. And I was proud of you. I want you to know that your curiosity and determination will see you through your life. I know that feeling of being so afraid and so unsure, and yet still needing to see it through and do it — of pushing through the fear.
It gets a lot easier as you get older too because you really do start to understand that you have worth and value, and you deserve to take up space on this planet, because you have something to offer. It doesn’t have to be monumental, but you deserve to be here because every ripple of love and healing that you send out has the power to change the world.
It is my job to protect you, to nurture you, and help you to see that there is no need to hold onto shame or blame. Just be who you are, and when you make a mistake, say you’re sorry. That’s all you need to do. The rest is up to them.”
As I read this bit of my life to the group, something that I expected not to make sense, did. I felt myself becoming emotional as I read it, as I always do when I speak my truth.
The thing about sharing your writing is that if you don’t do it, you are missing out on a chance to discover on a deeper level, that what your inner critic tells you is drivel, actually makes sense. Of course, now that I am about to send this off into the ether, my inner critic is saying, “Don’t do it, don’t press ‘publish’. People will never take your classes if you let them read this crap, or show them how weak you are.” But the fact that whether it is or isn't polished, or particularly insightful, isn’t the point. This writing is simply my heart telling me what I need to hear so that I can add it to all the little revelations I’ve been hearing in my heart as I move towards healing an important part of me that is ready to be healed.
In my writing classes, I see heads nodding, tears flowing, and many, many — wow, that really touched me — moments. You see, we humans are empathetic creatures by nature, and our senses are wired to experience the feelings of others as our own experience because, in a way, we’ve all lived it.
What I know to be true
While it’s an act of bravery to share our hearts if a group of people receives so much from your words, it's actually be an act of selfishness not to share.