For the month of January, I signed up as part of author Jeff Goins’ My 500 Words Challenge. Every day, we are to write 500 words. Free-writing. No editing. None. These are today’s 500 words. My goal for 2014 include writing a book as well as writing more here. I’m realizing that while my blog has a Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders focus, I am human and do not have to stick to just pieces about PMAD’s. I plan to share more of myself here this year, to do as this piece mentions – to strip down – let the vulnerability of my humanity fly for the world to see.
There is a naked tree behind our house. It is in the middle of a row of evergreens. The tree, in the autumn, has leaves which echo the fierceness of a radiant sunset. But in the winter, it stands alone, naked, at the side of the road. This year, however, there is a lone stubborn leaf clinging to one of the topmost branches.
I cannot help but think that this naked tree is like a writer in the midst of non-writers. As a writer, we are to strip our souls bare and stand out among the crowd for all to see. Our words are our thoughts put to paper. They hang there, as if they were ornaments on a tree. Other words may hang in the air as if they were shreds of torn and dirty paper, floating along in the breeze. But the words that stick, the ones that strip us to our very core, those are the ones for which we write every day.
They are the naked branches on the lone winter tree. The lone leaf is our stubbornness in staying away from the exercise of writing. Using our words, in written form, is like going to the gym for a top athlete. If we fail to get in consistent practice, we fail to stay in top form. Our writing falters, we falter, and we begin to perceive the world around us differently.
When you are a writer, every single instance of life is a potential story. From making tea in the morning, to cooking breakfast, to the actions of neighbors, to your children, to things your friends say, or even the beauty in the day outside your window. It is all a story waiting to be told, sometimes aching to be told. But if you haven’t been flexing your writing muscle, the story will fade into the darkness.
But what if you were the one meant to tell the story? Sometimes a story will cling to you if you are the one meant to tell it but first, we have to be willing to listen to the prompts swirling about us as we live life. It might be our story, it might be someone else’s story, or it might be a tale plucked out of thin air to be fancifully created by only you.
If you think for one second that you are not the one to share it because you are not capable, remind yourself that people have used words to communicate for centuries. One does not have to be particularly talented to use words. Practice makes perfect.
Remember learning how to ride a bike? I would be willing to bet you thought you were never going to get it right. But you kept trying as your parents (or another adult) taught you what to do. This is why reading is a critical part of writing. Swallow books whole – devour them – in addition to writing. You will not only be reflecting what is shared but you will be learning from those who have broken through the barrier of where you find yourself now. They are without training wheels – and you will be without training wheels soon as well.
There is magic, strength, beauty, compassion, truth, and hope in words. Do not find yourself afraid to use them this year. Let this be the year you fearlessly share the story you are meant to share. Go. Write.