“Once you have learned to trust your own voice and allowed that creative force inside you to come out, you can direct it to write short stories, novels, and poetry, do revisions, and so on. You have the basic tool to fulfill your writing dreams. But beware. This type of writing will uncover other dreams you have, too–going to Tibet, being the first woman president of the United States, building a solar studio in New Mexico–and they will be in black and white. It will be harder to avoid them.” – Natalie Goldberg
I wrote this as a volunteer for Love Letters to Yourself. We printed it out and distributed it to participants at a recent event in hopes that it would jump-start some creative juices towards writing their own Love Letters to themselves (find advice on how to begin this this surprisingly challenging act here).
I’m sharing it on my blog because I believe in its message and because so many people are intrigued by creative writing but are afraid to pick up the pen due to fear, anxiety, and feelings of art being “frivolous” – as if we are wasting our time dabbling in things when we should be slogging on through some predictable trajectory forward. Writing can be a revolution of self-love and self-actualization. Writing is usually the least frivolous thing I do in the course of a day. xx
Making the choice to pick up a pen, tune out the world, and spend time in our own feelings is a radical act of self-love. By carving time out of our day to write, we make a commitment to ourselves that we are important and that our memories, thoughts, stories, and moods are worth acknowledging.
Many of us have been told at some point that our voice doesn’t matter – that we need to quiet down, to let things go, to stop being so sensitive. By picking up a pen and letting our feelings spill onto the page, we reclaim the power of our own voice.
When we write, we remember that we are bigger than the sound bites and social media snippets that comprise our modern world. We step back from society’s messages about who we should be, and we choose to rediscover who we are.
Do you know what your handwriting looks like? Do your letters become loopier when you are elated with life? Do your sentences shrivel up when you feel lost? Embrace these tiny and miraculous discoveries you make about yourself.
What does your writing voice sound like? You have your own glittering writing style pulsing through you and waiting to be discovered. Writing allows us to get to know these vibrant pieces of ourselves that lie just beneath the surface.
When we first put words down, they are often cramped, clunky-sounding, and imperfect. This is okay. We get to practice non-judgment in these moments as we learn to accept ourselves exactly where we are today.
You are enough. You can write in highlighter in a tattered empty notebook you found under your brother’s bed. You can scribble in the margin of a receipt that you found in the bottom of your purse. You can tearfully fumble words together in ways that don’t make sense in that moment. And you are still enough.
If you feel called to share your writing, we no longer need to wait for a publisher to give us permission to be artists. Start a blog. Write a love letter to yourself. Self-publish a novel. Dust off that story you wrote when you were seven – the one that you secretly adored, but that you shoved to the back of your closet out of embarrassment. Begin.
Writing is brave. Too many people sit quietly on their hands, deny their own creative power, and maintain the status quo with their stories locked inside. Choose bravery.