You want to be a writer, don’t know how or when? Find a quiet place, use a humble pen.
~ Paul Simon
I’d like to take every one of those high school teachers who in some way discouraged students from writing and turn them over my knee.
Oh, I know: teachers get a bad rap; it’s their job to assign grades and therefore if a student gets a D on something he crafted with his own words, he thinks he’s a crap writer for the rest of his life.
Well, I am a teacher. And what I learned over nearly 20 years of guiding my students through the process of writing everything from argument essays to free-form poetry is that every person on this planet has a unique voice.
Writing that voice is not only possible for the person wielding the pen (or the keyboard), but it is essential communication with the rest of the world.
Here’s the big secret: If you can speak, you can write.
It’s really that simple.
Have you ever encountered something fascinating that you couldn’t wait to tell your friends? When you did finally relay the tale, your pals were engaged and locked into your every word. Why is that?
Students of writing are often told, “Write what you know.”
The idea behind this, in part, is to avoid writer’s block. You’ll drive yourself nuts trying to choose a subject to write about (that others will find engaging), so it’s best to write what is part of your direct experience.
A more heart-opening way to put this is that you are the authority on your own life, and therefore the best candidate to write about your experiences.
So, just like seeing something and relaying it to your friends, you take those words—your words—and put them on paper.
In Alberto Villoldo’s book, The Four Insights, he describes the importance of individual experience as a “path toward enlightenment.” He shares the viewpoint of the Laika, medicine men and women from the Andes and the Amazon:
Even though we all have similar experiences in life—falling in love, first days of spring, broken bones, travels abroad, losing a loved one—no one is going to write about experiences the way you do, with your direct experience.
Your job is simply to get quiet and report what you see, feel, taste, smell, hear, and intuit.
So forget the teacher in high school who splattered your papers with red ink and, as a result, forced you to forever pigeonhole writing as a form of communication intended only for geniuses and bespectacled introverts.
Your stories are needed to bring unity to the human experience.
You are the storyweaver of your life, offering us the warp and weft of your experiences.
Writing is a simple, powerful way to connect with others as well as carry you along your path toward awakening.
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Editor: Emily Bartran