Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. ~ William Wordsworth
My girlfriend Sally has been one of my dearest friends for over 20 years. We share a passion for self reflection and personal growth, though admittedly it has occasionally slipped into navel gazing as our husbands can attest. In the late 1980’s, we discovered Scott Peck’s The Road Less Travelled and formed a study group back in Boston. For both of us, writing is an important tool in the process. Where I ramble, Sal captures her thoughts in the succinct lines of poetry.
A few years ago, she went back to school to get her teaching certification. No surprise, she chose to specialize in English. Now a “new teacher” in her late forties, Sally works with high school honor students in Chicago. She loves the challenge, she loves getting them to write. Not long ago, we had a discussion about the importance of the writing process.
Sally said that she tells her students to write because the act of writing something down forces you to make a decision, to clarify your thoughts and beliefs, to take a stand. This really struck a chord with me. Whether you’re talking about your political beliefs, the theme of story, or the reasons you’re dissatisfied with your job, the process of writing makes you commit to an idea. And this is what writing, journaling, blogging, does for me. It gives me clarity.
Being an author is like being in charge of your own personal insane asylum. ~ Graycie Harmon
Sometimes I end up writing, “I don’t know WHY I feel this way.” Then, I draw on my “inner-Colleen” (my other self-reflective best-est, longest term friend.) Years ago, Colleen taught me a great trick for dealing with those waves of ambiguity. When you get stuck in the “I don’t know” cycle, FORCE yourself to choose an answer anyway. It goes like this … “I don’t know why I’m so unhappy … but if I DID know, the answer would be __________________,” and FILL IN THE BLANK ANYWAY!
Truly, you probably DO know, but fear often keeps you from answering. Fear? Yes, fear! Because when we KNOW the answer, then there is a call to action. We have to change something, and that often takes us out of our comfort zone. Failure to answer the question keeps us from developing our potential within. The process of writing gives us clarity, but only if we’re fearless.
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Other Favorite Quotes on Writing …
I love writing. I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions. ~ James Michener
A writer and nothing else: a man alone in a room with the English language, trying to get human feelings right. ~ John K. Hutchens, New York Herald Tribune, 10 September 1961
Writing became such a process of discovery that I couldn’t wait to get to work in the morning: I wanted to know what I was going to say. ~ Sharon O’Brien
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Special Note: My girlfriend, Colleen Tanaka (mentioned above) is in the process of setting up her own website. Colleen presents workshops on journaling and is a spiritual counselor in the Las Vegas area. Check out her new site.