Writing to find ourselves

Do you love to write? I’ve always loved to write, even as a child. In elementary school I’d write short stories during class and after school. I would stuff them into my dresser drawer, and later find my little sister Maria in my room, absorbing them and wanting more. I’d tell her to stay out of my things, but was privately pleased that she wanted to read something I had written. (My sister is one of my biggest cheerleaders about my writing, to this day!)

During junior high school, I’d pour out my heart into a diary about the latest crush I had, or how I hated doing the family’s endless loads of laundry. In college, I joined the campus newspaper staff, and then became a reporter for the city for several months, handling the general news and police beat and occasionally writing features.

I’ve written my entire life. 

I still have dreams in my heart about being a very successful writer and speaker. If you’re a writer, a real writer, you know that you simply can’t not write. It’s in your blood. We’re obsessed with it. If we were one of the passengers on Oceanic 815 who crashed and landed on the island, we’d immediately have to look through the wreckage to find still-working laptops, pens, paper.

At some level I think we are writing to find out who we are. Who are you? What are you really trying to say? Why do you write? 

 Finally, how do you sometimes avoid writing?  Oh, you know you do!  We clean and decorate our writing rooms. We wash dishes or organize closets.  We go to the book store and buy books on writing.  We write long letters or emails to friends to avoid real writing. Writing is hard work – but fun work.  🙂

Writing can be scary, especially when you’re writing about real events from your family. It’s going for the jugular to actually write about that alcoholic relative and how everyone in the family is in denial about it, or that your parent never really gave up smoking, and would hide it from the other parent – as if you can hide the smell of smoke on clothing and breath.  Family members will get mad at writers for writing the truth.

No, we as believers in Christ don’t want to air dirty laundry to everyone we meet, but there is a certain freedom in writing down the truth. It unshackles us from fears, from the prudish editor in our head that says  “That isn’t very nice,”  it helps us to find ourselves, our convictions, our history as it really was and is. We stare at ourselves in the face and say, “Oh, I finally see.”

We write to draw wells of truth from within us. To make not just others – but ourselves – face it. Of course, we should be as kind as possible and should use discernment and wisdom. Just as not everything needs to be said when you’re talking with someone – even if you’re just about to bust to say it, like I frequently feel – not everything needs to be written.

But we shouldn’t fear or avoid it either.  Today, write down something that takes courage to write. You will be surprised at how it makes you feel a little lighter inside.

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” ~ e.e. cummings

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