“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
I do write to find out what I am thinking. More often than not, I’m surprised by what shows up on the page.
In fact, I tend to have little interest in writing about things I know. When I was trying to maintain a blog for my little business, I found it excruciating to try to write posts that shared information about coaching or yoga or Reiki. The posts were horribly boring and stilted (and mostly unread).
But the blog posts I write here are a joy. I start with a vague idea of what I want to explore and then write the post to find out what I really think, what I long for, what I fear, where I hurt, and what it all means. Some days I have a better idea of where it might take me than others, but I always learn something about me in the process.
Writing for me is a process of self-discovery. It’s the conduit that allows me to channel what’s hiding in my unconscious and subconscious up into the light of day where I can make use of it. It’s the light I shine on my inner landscape to explore the terrain. It’s how I bring what I know in my heart, my soul, and my body up to a conscious, verbal level. When I am struggling with some issue and don’t know what I think, I find my fingers itching for my pen (or my keyboard) so I can see what arises as I start to write.
I love this process and the gifts that it brings me, but it has its challenges too. Like my struggles to write my business blog, I frequently find it difficult to write about things I already consciously know. It feels unnatural (and frankly rather boring), and the words just don’t flow. It’s painful to write, and the result is always painful to read.
On the other hand, when it comes to writing stories, I tend to feel stuck until I have at least a rough outline of the plot, the characters, and the setting. Of course, that may change over time as I discover where the writing takes me, but without a general map of where I’m heading, I’m lost. This is much like my need for at least a vague idea of my field of exploration when I start a blog post. I need some structure and knowledge about what I want to say in order to get started, but I also need the space to let things arise from the creative, intuitive depths as I go along. (It always comes back to balance somehow, doesn’t it?)
I read so many books where people talk about their writing process. It seems that there are as many processes as there are writers, and it’s reassuring to think that there is no one way to go about it. As I work out my own writing process, it clearly needs to allow for the space for the writing itself to be part of the discovery process of what it is I want to say. It seems like it would be so much easier if I knew what I wanted to say upfront and then say it, but that’s not how I work, it seems.
I write to know what I’m thinking. That’s just what I do. And I’m finally learning to embrace that rather than try to fit into someone else’s mode of writing. I think this just may bring some clarity about the kind of writing projects that will best suit my style.
Of course, as I explore that idea, I’ll need to write to find out what I really think and feel and believe ….
What about you? Why do you write?
A Note on Comments: A chrysalis is by nature a fragile and vulnerable place to be, so I am committed to keeping this a safe place for me and for my readers. Comments sharing your own journey, even if your experience is different from mine, are always welcome and encouraged. Expressions of support or encouragement are also welcome. Comments that criticize, disparage, correct, or in any way attempt to undermine the validity of another person’s experience or personal insight are not welcome here and will be deleted.