|Photo Credit – Jan Bowman – October 2011
This week I’ve thought about the way the writing process teaches us about self acceptance and the amazing potential of the mind. Writers must learn to accept themselves in order to write the truest things they know about living. But often writers, or those who long to write, struggle with how to begin. So – start with a journal – one that is not forgiving if you tear out pages.
Keeping your beginning writing efforts in a journal, rather than on separate sheets of paper, is an important part of the process because you’re less likely to tear up your work and toss it out. In rereading your notebook entries over time, you have an opportunity to see the movement of your writer’s mind as you examine a range of topics or emotions. There is something about seeing your mind’s movement over the pages that helps to clarify the inherent form or structure that works best for a particular piece of writing. That coherence becomes most apparent as words collect on the pages of your journal.
Those early journal writings are the beginning of your writing process. If you squelch those early starts with heavy-handed judgements the best of what might have been is unlikely to thrive and grown.
Beware the hypercritical editor who lives in your mind and who whispers negative thoughts in your ear and who says things like: “You are a bad writer.” Or “No one will want to read this stuff.” “That’s an awkward sentence.” Perhaps we’re conditioned to think that negative criticism has more validity than positive feedback. But you don’t benefit from giving the “inner critic” and/or “inner editor” so much power over your work in the beginning of your writing efforts. You will need the editor and critic’s voice later – much later – in the writing process. Sometimes people want to read those first journal entries aloud or to others, but I believe that writers who do this lose the rich possibility that comes from a careful gestation. Perhaps this premature urge comes out of a deep need for affirmation, and while it might seem to validate a writer, often it actually prevents the work from achieving its full potential.
Writers seek to share the most powerful of their innermost impressions with others, whether the final work takes the form of a memoir, essay, short story, novel, or poetry. Writers know that writing is a worthy endeavor; it is the way we share the truest things we know about living. The process of writing teaches us a lot about accepting the amazing potential of our minds.
Brenda Ueland said, “Everybody is talented, original and has something important to say… But if you want to write, you need to accept yourself and respect the power and validity of your mind.”