“As empathetic or emotional writers, we write better when we are going through it.”
When I started this blog in March 2012, I was in a phase in my life where I felt absolutely compelled to write. I would be going about my day when I would suddenly be hit by strong and vivid thoughts and memories, along with words that I had to write down. They would be so powerful that sometimes, I would have to stop in my tracks.
That was two years ago almost, and things have changed since then. Change is good, and I am very relieved to have moved on from what was a pretty dismal point in my life. But change is uncomfortable, too, if you’re a creature of habit like me. I’m referring here to the change I see in my writing. I find that I’m writing for very different reasons right now.
In a recent post on the Romance Meets Life blog, a reader posted a comment, erroneously assuming that Myne Whitman (the blogger) might have written the post out of guilt. Myne corrected this impression, indicating that, in actual fact, she shares stories ‘to connect’ with others. This statement deeply resonated with me because in my current phase of life, I feel like I should continue to write for that same reason. To connect with others. And yet, there is something about this rationale for writing that I’m not yet completely comfortable with. I’m sure it’ll pass eventually, but for now, I’m a bit unsettled about it.
I struggle with a feeling of ‘inauthenticity’ because I’m no longer necessarily writing about where I’m at. Rather, I am reaching back in time and writing about where I once was. Ordinarily, there should be no problem with that, and really, there isn’t. But I do feel uncomfortable sometimes – guilty, almost – about eliciting emotions in response to a long-gone situation. I question how ‘authentic’ I’m being because, in reaching back, I end up writing about what I felt rather than what I feel. I realize that this is sort of irrational. I mean, you should be able to write about whatever you want, right? But it is something that I am dealing with right now.
When I mentioned this to my sister, she immediately got it, saying, ‘I feel you. As empathetic or emotional writers, we write better when we are going through it.’
(She’s such a brilliant girl!!)
I replied: ‘I love that expression (emotional/empathetic writers)! Never heard it before. Yeah, we write better when we’re going through …’
If you are an emotional writer, you need to have a deep connection to what you’re writing in order for it to feel ‘right.’ Without that connection, you are uninspired, even though that doesn’t necessarily stop you from writing. I think this is why I have mentally boxed myself in when it comes to writing fiction. I have convinced myself that I can only write about what I have felt (or seen, or touched, or heard, or smelt, or tasted …) – that I can only really write about what I’ve experienced and connected with, rather than about what I’ve imagined.
But I’m now in the process of coming to terms with the fact that there’s no one reason why I have to write. My life is evolving and I need to give myself permission to have my writing evolve right along with it.
When I wrote Our Song, I didn't think I would post it. I held onto it for a day, convinced I would let it go, and then thought, ‘You’ve written it, so you might as well post it.’ When I got Teddy Teddy’s comment in response to the blog post, I was quite taken aback that something I had planned to discard was actually what someone out there needed to hear at the time. (So, thank you, Teddy Teddy, for reaching out!)
I think sometimes, we tend to feel like we can/should only do stuff when we are ‘under the anointing.’ But if we have a desire to do something (even if we feel like we can’t really hack it), maybe we should take a step of faith and do it anyhow. For it is God that works in us to will and to act according to His good purpose (Phil 2:13, NIV). Maybe when we act on the will that we have been given, the grace simply follows.
I just realized that this is the blog’s 100th post.
Here’s to writing and all the reasons why we bother to do it.