I have a confession. I’ve been writing things and not sharing them with you. I’m keeping some of my writing to myself for a change. It feels like a secret, one that means little to anyone else but means everything to me.
I used to keep writing all to myself. I kept a journal from a very young age and I always hid my journal beneath my mattress—as if to protect my words from the prying eyes of the public.
In school, I felt the teacher betrayed us when she gave a writing prompt, encouraged us to spill our secrets onto the page in solitude, then turned on all of us by turning quiet writing time into show and tell. If any student refused to share their writing with the class, then the teacher would do it.
I never shared my writing. I cringed over the years as teachers read my work to the class. Thankfully, most of my teachers kept my work anonymous as they read it aloud—but anyone who bothered to observe me would see the sweat and the blushing, every ounce of fear and anxiety releasing through my skin before I imploded.
Eight years after launching this blog, four novels later, and thousands of pieces of content released into the business wild, I still sweat and blush anytime I share my work. That anxiety never left, that selfish urge to hide my words beneath my mattress.
But, I kept giving my words away, away, away. Away to everyone and forgetting to keep some of them to myself. Until recently when I started taking up my childhood nighttime ritual of journaling in bed. Journaling about nothing in particular, for nobody else, for no objective or reaction.
My idea to keep writing to myself was solidified during a recent conversation I had about refocusing techniques with Marina Sofia on Love Your Enthusiasm.
When you write and edit on the regular, you have to close yourself off from endless distractions to get these high-focus tasks done. Being that Marina is an indie publisher and a writer, reviewer, and blogger, I knew she would have a refocusing technique that worked.
Here’s what Marina said on the podcast…
So one thing I do is with my local writing group, Royal Borough Writers. We do writing for wellbeing where we get together and have a bit of a guided writing meditation practice. It’s free-flowing writing with minimal prompts—maybe a verse or something—and then you just let it all out. I find that having those rants on paper, even if it’s rubbish that I’ll never look at again, really clears my head of rubbish so I can then focus on more important things.”
Whether you’re a blogger, author, content creator—or all of the above like me—you take writing very seriously. You share your words often with others, perhaps hundreds or thousands of others. But, these words don’t fall out of the sky…they come from within.
Just like anyone else, you start with a blank page. The difference is that you have the ability to conjure up words and fill the page. Then you go a step beyond that and share this inner journey, this personal victory, with others who either:
- Get it.
- Don’t get it.
- Like it.
- Love it.
- Hate it.
- Don’t feel anything about it.
This is blog post #327. My blog is only some of the writing I share with people…yes, some.
It’s a lot. When your writing is always public-facing, it’s very easy to separate yourself from writing just to write. Writing for the love of writing. Writing for wellbeing and self-expression.
There’s also something to this idea of not publishing every damn thing you write, because guess what, sunshine? It’s not always good writing. I’ve published plenty of shit writing myself over the years, I’m sure of it.
This is where a “writing for wellbeing practice” can actually save your reputation as a writer. Marina called it rubbish and I call it drivel. When you write randomly in a journal, spotlighted by the dim light of the bedroom lamp, you make space for better work in your writing cave later.
In my secret journal, I recently wrote too many pages about a new pen I bought. A pen? Yeah, a fucking pen. It’s chrome and dusty rose, thank you very much. So, in a way you’re lucky that I decided not to publish the “Ode to My New Chrome and Dusty Rose Pen” on this blog. It would not have meant anything to you, but it meant something special to me.
This is the first nice pen I’ve ever bought myself in life. Okay, “nice” is maybe a stretch since it was like $12. I’ve always been a writer without a pen. I wrote with whatever was lying around—a hotel, insurance, conference pen—or one of those generic pens birthed in a factory and swaddled in a plastic package.
So simple to use a pen as a writing prompt, but I felt like I went somewhere with it. And better yet, I kept this one to myself because of the significance of springing for a decent pen at this particular time in my life. These thoughts are all mine and it feels fantastic.
I still believe that sharing art is of critical importance to humanity, especially when humanity needs it most. But, I also believe it’s important to keep some of our creativity to ourselves, stash it under the mattress to protect it so we can bring more meaning back to our work…and remember why in the hell we became writers in the first place.
Fellow writers, how do you feel about it?