Last week, I ran into Jo who I met in a class I signed up for in 2009 called Finding God in Your Writing. I shared this blog with her and she sent me a message: Just visited your blog. Well done. A pity not to use your gift. (Thank you, Jo!)
Last night, I joined her and other writers for a couple of hours to write and rediscover how God works in our lives through the gift of writing and sharing. We had five prompts to respond to and we were given five minutes to write, preferably without any rude interruption from our inner editor or critic.
It was a joy to see my messy handwriting again and a few pages of my well-ignored Moleskine coming to life. I initially felt shy sharing what I wrote but their smiles and nods were encouraging (how approval dependent we writers are!). By the third round, I had to have a heart-to-heart talk with my inner critic: So what if I sound shallow or like I'm just rambling? I know I can't write poems but that's okay. Just write what comes naturally to you, you're not here to impress or seek approval. You have a story to tell so just write and stop thinking, stop over-analyzing. So what if others don't like it or get it. Just write for yourself. Write because you love it.
My inner critic shrugged it off then walked away. I continued to write.
Prompt: Nothing that you write is wasted because it all contributes to your growth as a writer.
And when a writer writes nothing, then a gift is wasted. It took me a while, and I sometimes still hesitate, to say that I'm a writer. I have been writing since I was a young child: love letters to my parents, projects for my creative writing summer class, mini novels with my best friend in grade school. Newsletters. Yearbook write-ups. Ten-page essays. My journals. Children's stories. This blog and other blogs I started and abandoned. Research reports. Copy for marketing collateral. A chapter on leadership. So much has been written, so much has been said, a few have even been published.
And when I stopped writing for myself as I did last year, I felt like a part of me stopped. I stopped sharing. I stopped giving. I stopped growing.
Writers write for themselves but writers also write to share, to give, to grow.
And tonight, I write.
It's not much and there's a long way to go, but I think it was a good first step to getting my voice back.
Thank You for the gift of words.