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Why I love writing
Writing Frees My Soul
I love writing. I am a writer. It's taken years to believe that and embody what it means to me. I'm still just now scratching my head about the truth of it. Funny how something can be with us for years and then we wake up one day wondering if perhaps, it is in fact that thing for which we were created. And then we find our voice.
It's still rather strange to me to consider myself a writer and I'm filled with nervous excitement as I share more of my work, myself. And if I think about comparing myself to some of my favorite authors, I shrivel inside feeling completely unworthy to share the title of writer with such greats. So comparisons are out. Not sure I can really be the best judge of my writing anyway and more importantly, I don't write to be the best. Simply put I write because I have to.
~Image created by me, Laura Peterson, quote by Alice Walker
Why I Have To Write - The ideas chase me...
image: Orange Yellow by Moyan_Brenn on Flickr Creative Commons
Sometimes even simple things, like flower petals, can be an inspiration for beautiful writing.
Many years ago, I heard one of my favorite authors, Richard Bach, speak in a little coffee shop. Someone asked him why he writes. I love his answer. He said that an idea will come to him and he will run from it. For as long as he can, he'll run until he can't run anymore and the idea must take shape.
My own writing is similar though my ideas tend more toward personal introspection and growth rather than metaphysical novels based on universal truths. But I write because I hear these thoughts go round in my head, over and over and at some point, I have to let them out. I write to release the thoughts and free my mind. When I have these ideas playing around and I find myself rephrasing something again and again, I know it's time to get to the computer or to pull out a journal. I guess it's part inspiration, partly a desire to create some more space in my mind again.
See, just like stretching creates space in my body, writing creates space in my mind. When I write, I release what's in there, I free it. And this frees my soul. It stretches me, it grows me a little each time I write.
And then there is the connection...
“A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.” ~ Maya Angelou
Writing Connects The Dots
Sharing the dots is why I love it
So I write because I have ideas in my head that need freeing. But that doesn't tell you why I love it. I've been hard pressed to clearly articulate those thoughts, other than to say that when I write, I figure out the nitty gritty of my life and my heart and I just feel better. I feel more clear. I get me more. And getting me is challenging so the more I can do to understand my inner workings, the better.
I tend to write more when things are difficult. As an anguished teen I used writing as an outlet for my heartaches. Once, when my slightly older boyfriend told me he wanted to see other people (but no, he wasn't breaking up with me...huh?), I quickly whipped out 5 or 6 poems. (and no, I'm not going to share them anywhere, anytime!) Not hateful, I-hope-you-die kind of poems. No, I'm an internalist. They were about my pain and my sadness. They were a way for me to sort the hurt and let it go a little. As I've grown and teenage breakups moved aside for more adult challenges, I've used my writing to sort through what I want in my life, why parenting is so hard and what I'm supposed to be doing with this life I have before me. I haven't answered all the questions, but I've found some peace along the way.
As I've said, articulating what writing really means to me and why I love it has proven difficult. A writer at a loss for words. However, I recently came across a post on Momastery that felt like the writer (Glennon Melton) was writing my heart's language.
At first blush, writing out our intimate inner workings and airing it for the whole world might seem narcissistic. I'll admit, I do like attention. I like it when people tell me they enjoyed my writing, that it touched them somehow. It makes me feel warm inside (people's opinions and my caring about them was a subject of my blog post, Do You Give a Rip. I'm working on feeling that razor wire edge of enjoying praise while not needing it to feed my own self-worth. It's not simply about attention however. There is something much deeper at work here. It's about connection.
Connecting with other living breathing souls is what really inspires me. When I write my truest true thoughts and someone else says, hey me too, I feel less lonely, less weird for thinking the way I do. So what seems like patting myself on the back because someone likes me and my writing, is really jumping up and down at the knowledge of a soul connection. There are others out there that I can relate to and know and connect with and love. And the more we can connect deeply with our hearts and souls and step beyond the surface niceties of our modern society, the better.
Writing also serves to connect me with me. Who I am, what I want. It brings me back to my own personal truth where the shoulds and ought to's don't exist. I get to connect with that deeper core of myself where I am still.
And at that deepest, most peaceful, truthful place in me I find God. In a soul stirring, life affirming kind of way where I can hear more clearly that all is well, that life is good, that I do have a purpose and I am on the right path. What could be better?
My favorite books on writing
Such a delicious book to read. Full of useful information and written in an easily understood manner. The book is broken into four parts, the first on writing (covering topics such as getting started, character development, and even, how do you know when you're done). Then comes the writing frame of mind. Next, tools that can help you out like writing groups, index cards etc. Lastly is a section about publication. None of it dry and boring. All of it fun and very useful.
A book of zen unteaching all kinds of rules about writing. I loved the permission this book gave me to write garbage on the way to writing well. Forget the rules you learned in school. Color outside the lines. Breathe, practice and go.
By the same author as Writing Down the Bones, this book has multiple "Try This" exercises to help flow into that wild mind space of rawness. There are tips and tools and suggestions on all aspects of writing. Love this one too!
Things That Inspire Me to Write - Or, things that calm me enough to listen to the voice withinClick thumbnail to view full-size
Writing Tips for Budding Writers
- You don't have to make money writing to consider yourself a writer. Give yourself the title. Then feel your way into it.
- Write. Just write. Put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and write.
- Save editing for an hour, a day or more later. When you write, write, don't edit.
- Practice. And then practice some more. Feel the flow of the words.
- Stop thinking. My best writing comes when I am not thinking about what I want to say, how I'm going to say it and how impressive it's going to be. It's about getting into the flow and letting it take you for a ride.
- If a beautiful journal inspires you, then find one (but don't use the wait to find it as an excuse to put off writing). I've written in fun, unlined journals and college ruled spiral notebooks. Both work. Sometimes I like lined pages, sometimes I like the free and uncluttered space of a blank page (and I can make doodles if I feel inclined). If there's nothing else available, the back of a napkin will suffice when inspiration hits.
- Carry around a voice recorder (or an app on your phone) to capture ideas when you aren't able to stop and write immediately. Like when you are driving. Other drivers frown upon your stopped car. They don't get that inspiration hits when it hits.
- As hard as it is, try not to listen to other's opinions. The positive ones do feel great and can build your confidence and that's all good, but the negative ones can really sting. And stifle you. Listen to your heart.
Beautiful journal or back of a napkin? - What do you write in?
Do you like to write in a fancy journal? A spiral notebook? On your tablet?
You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.
~ Madeleine L'Engle