Write to Feed Your Soul
Guest Blog Post at 'A New Look on Books'
May 17, 2018
Writing for me has always been as natural as breathing.
I started composing stories before I knew how to form a written word on the page, creating entire worlds in my head before I could fashion a single letter.
Perhaps that’s one reason much of my writing has always been composed in my head. I often wait until I have the perfect line burning my brain before setting pen to paper.
The writing process is different for everyone and continues to evolve as a person grows and learns and changes.
There is no “right” way to write.
There is no “wrong” way.
The best way is to write. In whatever way the words come to you, whatever way the sentences form, however the images appear, grab onto them and create. Write to nourish your soul and feed your inner desire for knowledge, for discovery, for transportation to another world.
Write for You.
Writing is a special form of art; instead of sculpting clay in my hands I sculpt sentences from words, creating curves with commas and expressions from exposition. Forming features from nothing – a blank page, open space, blackhole. So much opportunity waits on a blank page. Creating entire characters. Worlds blinking up at you, glimmering under the stark whiteness, the virgin snow. Daring you to discover them on the page, to paint with your words and create the artwork of your soul, writing from that deep dark inner place.
That’s where I write from, and the consequence is much of my writing is dark. I don’t shy away from this, though I used to. I used to feel apologetic when I would ask someone to read my work, knowing it was dark, knowing it may transport them to images and thoughts they didn’t want. But then I decided to not apologize for my artform. This is what speaks to me, this is what flows from that deep inner space, and this is what I am meant to write. This, I hope, will in some way touch the world and bring a bit of understanding to others. I write from a space of much pain, but I want others to hear my voice and to know their voices can be heard too. No matter the darkness that may glimmer like hot coals amidst our words.
Don’t hide the part of you where you write from. No matter what shines, no matter what you produce, share that with the world and celebrate your uniqueness. Celebrate the perspective only you have, that only you own. Share it with the world and don’t flinch if they can’t look your darkness full in its face. Never apologize for your creations, beautiful monsters.
One of the best things I learned in my MFA was to write for myself. I’m not writing for anyone else when I set out, just as an artist does not create for anyone but themselves. I write to feed my soul. I write to nourish myself, to grow and discover, and to celebrate my unique view on the world. I hope you will do the same.
Write as Often as You’re Able.
I used to stress myself to no end thinking I needed to be writing daily and then punishing myself internally if I didn’t write one day. Sometimes, it’s good to take that break instead of forcing it. You don’t want to write when the muse isn’t coming to you – you also don’t want to lose complete track of writing, either. But if you find yourself at a bit of an impasse with your writing at some point, don’t sweat it. That doesn’t mean you fail as a writer, that doesn’t mean you can’t write and that certainly doesn’t mean you should give up.
It took me a while to get back in the writing groove after I graduated my master’s program. I was feeling pretty burnt out, considering I had pursued the MFA running on dwindling steam as it was, I felt the need for a break afterward. Then I started to worry about it and stress about it, to the point where it was affecting my daily life.
Once I finally sat down to write again, the words still flowed just as easily, as if I had only met with them yesterday. I hadn’t lost my touch, if anything I had gained a bit of insight into my own writing abilities and it gave me a fresh outlook. I even started writing a different style after taking a bit of a break, and it worked well for me. I tried flash fiction instead of longer stories and with my background of poetry, the flash fiction flowed off my tongue like honey. I had a few acceptances from literary magazines within a few weeks of beginning to write it and submit it out. My lines were lyrical; the form spoke to me and it was like the words danced off my fingertips.
You were born a writer, or you were bred one, and you won’t lose that skill or talent by taking some time off. Writing comes in so many different forms. I was still writing for my job, a different style of writing again – I had to re-learn journalism practices, but that has also helped me with my minimalism, knowing to be sparse with my words because I can only fit so many on the page.
Write into Different Worlds.
One of my main goals as a writer has always been to surround myself with different experiences – different people, different lives, different stories, different situations. For me, this mindset led me to unexpected and wonderful places which planted a seed of passion within me for a societal issue I would have otherwise never noticed.
I took a course in my sophomore year of college that took students inside max security jail to meet face-to-face with inmates in a classroom setting. The class was called “Storytelling” so it was meant to be, in my mind.
Since the first day of entering that jail, feeling terrified and ending up having the most eye-opening and mind-expanding experiences of my life, it set the stage for the way I lived the rest of my life. I didn’t want to turn down any opportunity that came my way. It showed me how wonderful things come from the most unexpected places. And it spurred me to write my novel-in-progress, which follows the life of a woman who goes to prison. Once I realized how much a prisoner’s voice is smothered (particularly women), it made me want to help with my words and my writing. To reach out to the public in some way.
Putting that out into the universe has led me to even more amazing paths, but that’s for a different story. Let’s just say I’m now also writing a memoir – two memoirs to be exact, and that’s something I never thought I would do.
Write Without Limits.
When writing, it’s important not to limit yourself or to define yourself by one genre. You don’t want to shove yourself or your creativity into a box. It’s better to allow your creativity free reign and see what it comes up with. You’ll be pleasantly surprised. I know I always am. I allow my muse to come out in poetry, creative non-fiction, and fiction, including flash and microfiction.
No matter what I’m writing, I always leave a part of myself behind like a watermark, a fingerprint. And like I was saying my writing is dark earlier, it isn’t a bad thing. Learn to embrace what makes you and your writing unique because that is what will make your style stand out from the rest. People start to pick out my writing, they learn to expect the darkness, and when you offer them glimmers of light, it is, I believe, all the more pleasing.
“Only when it is dark enough, can we see the stars.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson