Even if you believe that writing is not your thing, you cannot deny that writing is a huge aspect of our everyday existence in the world. Barring any apocalyptic ending to civilization, I can’t see that the written word will ever be replaced. Can you?
IS THERE A REASON WRITING ISN’T YOUR THING?
“My teacher/ mother/ father /person in authority said that my writing was terrible.”
Everyone has a story, and the easiest way to find your voice is to start telling yours. People connect to others’ experiences, especially when they’re painful or embarrassing. It’s not that we revel in your shame or embarrassment, but it comforts us to know that we are not alone.
When you share your story, you’re inviting others to a place where they are safe to share their stories, and they can feel heard because you have similar stories. Write one true, vulnerable story, and see how people connect.
You may have heard or read my retelling of my mother not believing the story I wrote about Halloween in grade four was mine. For most of my life, I was hugely traumatized by her careless question. Not only that she couldn’t believe that I was capable of such creativity, but that she so effectively shut down the budding creative writer in me. It was one of those pivotal moment stories that defined my young life.
But now I use that story to illustrate just how much impact our childhoods have on our lives, how they shape us, and even define who we are. I’m actually grateful to my mother in some strange way. If it wouldn’t have happened, how would I be where I am now, helping you?
Just because you’re not Ernest Hemingway, or Margaret Atwood, it doesn’t mean you’re not good enough to write. As I’ve said many times before, ANYONE WHO WRITES IS A WRITER. Being published is not for everyone or everyone’s desire. If you write blogs, you're a writer. If you write a journal, you are a writer. Period.
“My mother/father, sister/brother, lover, etc. — read my journal”.
Unfortunately, we sometimes suffer trauma around the very act of keeping a diary or journal. And when it happens in childhood it can be a trauma that is so deeply embedded that we have an incredibly difficult time letting it go.
But my darling, you must let it go. At least enough to allow the words that have been building up inside you to come out somehow. Think of your journal as a vessel for holding your pain, your sorrows, your joy, your celebrations. She can be the mother you never had or the friend you’ve always wanted.
Our journals are a safe place for us to be completely ourselves. Ultimately, they help us to take off the masks we wear in front of people so that what we write in our journals is a form of what we allow the people in our lives to know about us.
If you’re uncomfortable with someone reading your journal, keep it away from prying eyes, for sure. But if you're not keeping a journal because of the possibility that someone will read your journal, honey, you’re with the wrong people!
Consider this: if they do read it, and you wrote something in the heat of the moment about them, damn girl, don’t they deserve to know they’re shitheads? It’s not your fault if they look in a private document and don’t like what they read. Really, it’s not.
JOURNAL WRITING AND JOURNALS COME IN MANY FORMS
Journaling can take many forms of expression: art, poetry, lists, doodling, scrapbooking, coloring, storytelling, or straight-up free writing. It’s all a form of art in some way or another because it expresses something that comes from deep inside of you.
GIVE UP UNATTAINABLE PERFECTION
The beautiful thing about writing from your heart is that it will be beautifully written no matter what. It is perfection because it is a perfect reflection of where you were at the moment you wrote it.
When you journal from your heart, it’s not meant to be polished. It’s bound to be raw and unpolished because it’s coming from a place of purity, deep inside you. It’s like you’re pushing up uncut diamonds. You get to choose whether to turn it into something polished, or not. It’s your power.
Your journal can also be viewed as an ideas generator. If there is something in there that can be made useful to the world — a passage in your novel or memoir, shared as inspiration in your business, or to help someone who is in a similar pain — don’t you think you owe it to yourself and to the people you could help, to tell it?
BONUS: YOU WILL GET BETTER AT WRITING THE MORE YOU WRITE
Writers are not born: they are created through life and practice.
As you journal, you begin to understand where all those raw and deep feelings come from.
You realize that bringing those feelings up to the light is not, in fact, killing you.
But those entries are, in fact, lessening the shame you’ve been holding onto about your life for all of these years.
You may find yourself grateful, as I am, for the traumatic stories of your childhood and life.
The more times you write your difficult stories down in your journal, the weaker the spell they have over you gets. As you write and rewrite your stories from an adult’s perspective, you will see them differently, with the understanding that what happened cannot be undone, but also those stories are what made you who you are today, and they can no longer hurt you. You are not broken; you are a triumph!
One day you may share your stories with someone who is worthy of hearing them, and she will be touched beyond measure. You will see your life has meaning and worth. And finally, you will know how valuable sharing your stories can be.
Write. You owe it to yourself, to those who bear the brunt of your unhappiness, and to those out there in the world that will be helped by the telling of your stories.
kathy mercure is a storyhealer, storylistener, and storyteller. Her life’s work is to gently draw stories from her students and help them unblock their writing, find their voice, and heal their lives. Her passion is to support women and men in realizing their true identity as a valued human being, claiming their passions, and speaking their truth as they become their most authentic selves. (Photo by EagleSpirit Soul Shots)