My original topic for this insight post was supposed to be related to asking for and receiving supportive feedback for your writing. Try as I might, I just didn’t feel inspired to write about this subject. That rough draft copy still waits for my attention, a few bullet points on a page, but this morning when I woke up, I thought, “Why don’t I just write about what’s really on my mind?”
I keep learning, time and again, that I can’t force the writing to go where there’s no energy. I was recently reminded by Natalie Goldberg to “follow the writing”. This means to start with a prompt or an idea, and then get out of the way… “let writing do writing.” So, in that vein, here’s where my writing energy wants to take me: vulnerability as a writer.
Vulnerability? Why does vulnerability matter in writing? To be vulnerable means to connect with your audience and let them know it’s not all rainbows and unicorns. Social media seems to focus on how well we’re all doing. If you want to show a more honest, less squeaky-clean version of yourself in your writing, regardless of the medium, you may struggle with how much of your difficult moments to reveal. One of my mentors talks about sharing “well-digested experience”, rather than the raw emotions of a difficult time. That guidance has served me well.
As a writer, and mentor, I’m often walking an edge: “How much do I share with my writing community?” Today I want to share what’s making it hard for me to be productive, to get even the simplest tasks completed. Why the functional tasks, like grocery shopping, cooking, basic cleaning, are falling by the wayside. Let alone anything creative. On my priority rating scale, writing is lower on the list, which makes it challenging to get my projects completed. I look at a date on the calendar and then walk away. “Can’t do that right now.” I decide. “I’ve already made supper. That’s all the creative spoons I have for the day.”
What’s affecting my creative spoon level? The personal “biggie” is my husband going through his third round of chemotherapy for chronic leukemia. How the promised “gentler medication” is still affecting his body-mind in familiar ways: very little energy, “chemo brain”, pain in the joints and more. My husband has been asking some profound questions which resonate long after the words have stopped: “How much longer can I do this?” “If there are other interventions offered, could I say yes?” “If there was more chemo required, would I be able to go through this one more time?”
How vulnerable can I be?
My husband and I been having conversations about quality of life versus extending life, and what we value most. My heart-mind is holding these questions with a sense of curiosity, imagining his reality. I’m deeply affected as I witness the impacts of chemo treatment on my partner. I don’t want to stay numb as a coping strategy, and it’s painful to be present to what is. My creative spoons are used up in the act of witnessing with compassion, honoring the journey we’re on.
I am choosing to share with the intention of normalizing any experience you may be having that blocks your writing process. I haven’t even mentioned events on the global scale – those are deeply impacting my energy as well. What I can say is that these are difficult times to be a human being on the planet, so please, go gently. Find places of respite, whether it’s in nature, listening to music, meditative silence, or having tea with a friend. Reading a book that reminds you of the beauty of being alive, even in the difficult times. We are on one wild and precious ride. May you create moments of peace and connection that nourish your spirit.