I latch onto words. This has happened to me for most of my adult life. I grab hold of a word and either use it frequently in conversation or end up reflecting on it for awhile and relate it to my experiences. I think that’s why, when I started this blog last June, I decided that my blog entries would be single-word titles. I’m naming what I’m writing about. I’m getting to the heart of what my blessings and burdens are. Words like oak and stirring and joy and forward simmer inside of me. My writing helps me define my thoughts, own them, and name them.
At times, my thoughts take on an intensity. I can easily dream and get lost in reflecting on situations, which keeps me from being in the present and often just ends up being speculation or building up expectations of what is to come. My writing has allowed an outlet for those thoughts. It’s a place to unleash them and leave them. It’s a way of working through those thoughts, naming what they are, and letting them go when I click the ‘post’ button.
My writing process starts with simply throwing thoughts, statements, sentences on the page. It’s a stream of consciousness. It’s all very disjointed. I end up moving phrases together to form sentences, then shift those thoughts around to form paragraphs. What I noticed is that I always begin by writing everything in the third person. I use the word ‘you’, but as I polish, re-read, and fine-tune those sentences, I replace each ‘you’ with ‘I’ and it changes my perspective completely. I take on this state of ownership and vulnerability. I’m feeling these things. I’m naming them. I’m sharing them with the world. Just the tweak of a simple pronoun completely changes my perspective. It’s empowering and brings me great clarity.
I was telling a friend that after every post I write, I feel I have nothing left to reflect on. All of my energy went into wrestling with the words for that post and I am done. And yet, soon enough, I catch a word or an idea or something is weighing on my heart and I open up a new page and start putting those blessings and burdens on the screen. If I’m to experience a drought in my writing, it hasn’t happened yet. I could never have imagined when I started this blog that I would be in the place where I’m at now. I started this blog during a crisis period in my personal life. It was an outlet for me to make sense of what I was feeling. A way to see thoughts and feelings I didn’t understand and had a difficult time putting into words. Over the past few months, I’ve found the words to help me through those struggles and have recorded some joys along the way as well. I have discovered more about who I am, what I want, and what I don’t want in my life. I have uncovered hidden parts of myself that I was ignoring or didn’t even know were there.
My posts are my prayers on the page. I am communicating with God. He speaks to me through these words. I have felt more connected to Him, His plan, and His love for me than I have in a long time. I have grown tremendously in my faith and trust in His will for my life. I love the conversations my writing unlocks. If I didn’t share my journaling, if I didn’t risk and be vulnerable as I share my story with others, then I would miss out on those precious prayers and conversations. The most profound statements are often those that are the simplest. Epiphanies about frustrating situations manifest themselves into a concise word or phrase. Simplicity is power. Own it. Name it. Let it go. . .
I spoke early on about my writing being selfish. It’s for me. I post my thoughts for all to see because of the process. The process helps me find the right words to describe what I’m feeling. Figuring out HOW to say it and explain it in a way so others will understand is challenging. But, that’s how I make sense of my thoughts. It’s incredibly healing. I wrestle with and polish to find the right words to name it and fine-tune phrases, sentences, and paragraphs to ensure the words on the page reflect my soul. It has been an awesome experience. Comments, emails, texts, and conversations with dear friends about my writing have been life-giving. I am forever grateful for those interactions and they continue to help me learn and love and live into my blessings and through my burdens. Thank you!
It’s hard to believe I’ve only been writing this blog for two months. I’ve journaled for most of my life, but blogging is different. It’s more intentional. It’s more focused. It’s been transforming. Each post is a prayer – – I feel like I’m writing to God. Historically, my journaling has solely occurred during my struggles, during times of angst. Even though this blog originated as an outlet for those kinds of reflections, I also seek to reflect on the great joys in my life and name what they mean to me. I want to look back and remember what meant the most to me along my journey. I smile when I think of the many answered prayers I will discover when I comb back through my writings with hindsight as my guide.
Over thirty people follow my blog, half of whom are strangers. My intention is not to build a huge following. But, I am humbled that people who I don’t even know would not only read my posts, but sign up to be notified each and every time I write. A friend who encouraged me to start writing in the first place said that I had things to share that others could relate to; that I had beautiful insights that people would respond to and be blessed by. I don’t know about that. It’s hard for me to believe that little old me could make that kind of impact, but here I am, writing my life and others are paying attention. That’s amazing to me.
I think my writing makes some people uncomfortable. I hear nothing. But, for the majority, I have experienced new opportunities for openness and deeper discussion with dear people in my life. Friends mirror my honesty and openness as they share their hearts with me. They tell me that I stated something in a way they could completely relate to, that I shared an insight they totally connected with. My writing is a reflection of all of them. It includes quotes shared, comments made, and nuggets from conversations I’ve latched onto. I’ve had friends tell me what a good writer I am. I’ve never considered myself a writer. I’m just writing the way my soul seeks to be heard. My words are fully human, raw, and 100% me. It’s awesome how God continues to mold and shape and show me His gifts within myself.
I love my Evernote app. I use Evernote to organize my thoughts. I’ll be doing something mundane, like drying my hair in the morning or brushing my teeth before bed, when a word or thought or conversation pops into my head. Evernote helps me organize those ideas into related notes. I have over 100 of these notes, most with a one-word working title, a few initial thoughts, and maybe a quote or song or link or photo that speaks to me. Those topics that weigh heavy on my heart or that bring me great joy in the moment are the notes I polish and post. My times of greatest reflection and insight occur early in the morning or later in the evening. It is not uncommon for my deepest thoughts and most profound reflections to come forth before 6am or after 10pm. I believe my mind is more centered and I’m less distracted by the busyness of daily events during these times of quiet. I’m more relaxed and able to discern the messages inside of me.
I’ve quoted Frederick Buechner in previous posts. I start my day with him each morning. This year, I’m reading his book, Listening to Your Life, a book of daily devotions. Buechner’s writing is beyond profound to me and I am in awe of the way he elegantly states the simplicity of life. His words ring true for me….that by sharing our hearts out loud, we unveil our humanness and seek to help each other through this journey called life.
Write about what truly matters to you – not just things to catch the eye of the world but things to touch the quick of the world the way they have touched you to the quick, which is why you are writing about them. Write not just with wit and eloquence and style and relevance but with passion. Then the things that your books make happen will be things worth happening – things that make the people who read them a little more passionate themselves for their pains, by which I mean a little more alive, a little wiser, a little more beautiful, a little more open and understanding, in a short a little more human. ~ Frederick Buechner