Sometimes it sneaks up on me. I could be writing about my morning. About how cool it is and how I'm hoping fall is here and will stay. But before I even start the next sentence a memory taps my shoulder. I think about a time when I was a kid. About the raked piles of autumn in my front yard. Piles of yellow and brown and rusty red. Piles of earthy dampness. My sister and I would dive into them. Toss the leaves up in the air and watch them float down to the grass. It surprises me sometimes. My thoughts. My subconscious mind and how she sneaks in, between my words. When I read back what I've written, whether I like where it's going or not, I appreciate the words. I appreciate how they make me feel and what they make me remember. I appreciate what they show me about myself.
What we're meant to write, we will write.
"I write consistently now. It is never a chore. I welcome it. It's been a cathartic process of unpacking my shit, polishing it up, making it palatable for human consumption. It's become therapy for me. I am thankful for feeling so much trust . . ."
That's an email I received from Nina, one of my clients. We have only been working together for 3 months, and I have seen her make a huge shift. It's when we surrender to the creative process that we are able to change our lives.
"I write entirely to find out what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear" ~~ Joan Didion
Writing is a brilliant tool. All you need is paper and something to write with. But the results of having written are impactful. The insights gained. The uncovering of buried thoughts, buried feelings, buried treasure!
"I've never had this deep of an awareness about myself."
My client Julie said that after realizing that she kept writing the same thing over and over. She wrote about something different each time, but the outcome was the same. She kept writing about how she held herself back. She wrote and wrote and wrote and in each scene, she noticed her character, she, the narrator, held back.
"I have a tendency to shy away from what I'm feeling," she said. She was sitting across from me, leaning forward in her seat. Her brown eyes open a little bit wider than usual. Her lips formed a small oh. "Not just in my writing," she said and leaned back. She sighed and shook her head. "But in my life. I shut down. I don't like to feel my feelings. I mean the difficult ones."
That's a huge revelation to have about yourself. It's life-changing!
Many of my clients laugh, they joke, calling their writing therapy. Especially my newer clients, those not used to writing in their deep voice. And in a way, their right. It is a form of therapy. Believe me, I'm no shrink, but I bear witness to my clients' revelations. I try to create a container for my clients. One large enough to hold all that they think and feel and discover from their writing.
Sometimes you don't have a writing coach or teacher or mentor to support you. I say find someone to read your work to. Read it to a friend, a partner, your spouse. Go to an open mic. It can be scary, but once you do it, you'll be set free. You'll have stepped into the ownership of the word writer. Those revelations, they will become even more profound. The benefits are greater. Magic happens when you read your work out loud to someone or someones who can bear witness to your healing.
Writers are adventures. They're explorers on a journey to the truth. Writing is a vehicle of discovery. A way to find your authentic voice. To look inside yourself and tell the story of your life and discover the truth of who you are.
How deep you're willing to swim, how honest you're willing to be is up to you.
And like anything worth mastering, writing is a practice. When you sit down to write, just write. Notice how you feel when you turn toward the page and how you feel when you've stepped away having written. Notice how you feel in a few days, in a few weeks, in a few months, after years of writing. Notice what's changed. Notice how you have changed. How your life has changed.
Notice. Pay attention. Allow yourself to be healed by your words.