The greater voyage of living begins with the intention to form a relationship. A relationship with yourself. Writing is a profound tool for doing so, but to be effective it requires the formation of another intimate connection. One with the page. From a practical standpoint, it’s easy. The only tools you need are a pen and paper. But to create a relationship that honors both the art of writing and the path of personal development, more is required. The tools – the pen and paper - are of no use if two other elements are not present: Commitment and Permission.
Be certain…I do not utter these words lightly; I know from experience the quiver they stir in the gut, the sweat they bring to the hands, and the turning away from many an adventure that has been done in their name. Still, they are the companions you must befriend if you are to become a traveler on this journey, if you are to come to know and grow yourself through the act of writing.
Let’s begin by expanding upon what I mean by a “relationship” with the page. If you choose to make writing a part of your life it is no different than any other relationship you forge. A simple, basic truth is that if you want your connections with your significant other, your family and your friends to work, to be strong and good, then you must, most essentially, show up to them. You cannot ignore or neglect them; but, must, with willingness of spirit, offer to them your time, your energy and your enduring presence. You must, in short, commit. It is no different with writing.
Writing that is real, that moves and touches and transforms is not created by making of it a mere acquaintance. Rather, such writing is developed through an intimate connection, one made by showing up to meet the page, by discovering the words and energy within you that desire and demand expression, and by embracing the voice that is found between the lines. Understand, writing such as this is the greatest commitment you will ever make, for it is, remember, the commitment to enter into an authentic relationship with yourself. No matter what genre you engage in, your work will ring with only the amount of truth that you are willing to know within yourself.
And so, if you are to write, and write deeply, you must commit to this relationship with all of its perils (for without doubt you will meet upon your way characters, places and experiences you are not so fond of). Just as when stepping into any new relationship, or setting out on any voyage, you do so with your vulnerability exposed, unsure of what lies ahead, but willing, still, to enter into the unknown.
Why? For the treasures only found only in the adventure of relationship. The joy, the beauty, the rawness of being. The startling depth and breadth of experience. The way in which moments so painful, when met face-to-face, can become those that renew your vision and leave you wiser.
Too often, a relationship with oneself is the last to be given time or attention. But it is the most crucial. And the kind of relationship that the page demands is the kind that leaves nothing hidden. But it is also the kind that promises to love no matter what is found.
And so, how do you embark upon this relationship with the page, and with yourself? You write. And you write. And you write.
Develop a writing practice.
Call it journaling. Call it Ground Writing, as I do. Call it whatever you like, but if writing is a way in which you choose to know yourself, if writing is a skill you wish to hone or an art you desire to engage in, then you must first decide so, and then commit.
• Get a notebook or journal – anything will do…a pad of paper, a spiral notebook with your favorite cartoon character on the front, a leather bound journal…
• Find a pen – not a pencil or computer keyboard. Let yourself learn the flow of your words as they move from heart and gut to hand…without erasure.
• For one week commit to daily writing.
• Decide upon an amount of time – I suggest starting at 5 minutes and increasing each day by another 5 minutes.
• Choose a time of day.
• Put the time on your calendar for each day of the next 7. Make an appointment with yourself and honor it as you would any other.
• When the time arrives, find a comfortable place to sit, take notebook and pen in hand, set a timer, and write.
• If you don’t know what to write, begin with this: “Right now, I…” and let your hand decide the next word, and the next…
• When the week comes to an end, review your commitment.
oWere you able to keep it?
oIf not, what obstacles stood in your way?
oWhat is one thing you could do to remove the obstacles or work around them?
oWould you like to continue writing? Daily? If not, how often?
oWhat writing practice would work for you? What schedule would you be willing to commit to? Write it down your, try it out.
• Continue to review and revise as necessary. Stay Committed.
Permission. I wonder when you read that word, what comes to mind…from whom do you think I mean for you to gain permission?
Not from your spouse or your children or your boss. But from yourself.
One of the biggest reasons that students give for not continuing a writing practice is the belief that it is a self-indulgent act for which they have no time. I realize that life is filled with “commitments” and that it is easy to turn writing for your own purposes into an expendable hobby. Practices done for reasons outside the scope of fiscal or social productivity tend to be surrendered first. But to truly embark upon this voyage in a way that will enhance your writing and your knowing of yourself, it is imperative that you allow for the opportunity to step upon the path.
Ask yourself: Why do I want to write? Write down your answer.
Now say aloud, “I give myself permission to write because (fill in your answer from above).”
Accept that whatever the reason you desire to write, it is reason enough. Period.
Write down your permission statement from above and post it someplace where you will see it everyday, and when you do, repeat it…again and again and again, until you deeply and fully believe it.
And now begin. Write, and know that each time you do you plant a seed in your consciousness, one that grows with every word, one that will bear fruit in the shape of your own creative life, that will, in time, produce the seeds of your next journey.