Lately it seems the articles I come across that are “artsy” are just kind of psychotic.
I’m honestly not talking about elephant journal right now, but there are several sites I find my Facebook friends sharing words from that, as a writer, I find problematic. After much consideration, I’d like to try addressing this within my writing community.
Because there’s a point where we’re mindfully feeling something—being present within our reality—and then there’s wallowing.
Sometimes an article doesn’t strike me as “deep,” so much as kind of Gothic-high-school-nutty. Most importantly, I think if writing wants to be good, then there needs to be a differentiation between what is a heartfelt share of sentiment and what is, frankly, kind of borderline personality disorder-ish.
Our writing should be kept in a deep dark hole rather than published if:
1. We wouldn’t want our kids to read it.
This isn’t the same as writing being uncomfortable because it’s honest and raw, and this doesn’t mean wanting an 11-year-old to read something. Still, there is a point when, if we have kids, we need to ask ourselves, is this article about their dad, for example, truly okay to put out into the world?
2. Other human beings do not benefit from this.
Sharing something personal can be beneficial to others because it’s insightful and helps us to not feel so isolated within ourselves; our own feelings and experiences.
There are also other times when writing is more of an emotionally wallowing blurt that could best be written down first inside of a journal, so that it can be processed more completely before being birthed for others to genuinely find the connection and/or lesson within.
3. Is it funny—or is it cruel?
My personal sense of humor tends to be sarcastic. Because of this, I’ve had to check in often with myself, about whether this is this funny as a general truth—that most other people think or feel, but wouldn’t verbalize—or is it just kind of mean-spirited and hurtful?
Humor shouldn’t have to hurt feelings to be funny.
4. Why are we sharing this publicly?
One of the best ways to decide if an article should be shelved or submitted, is to ask ourselves as writers why we want to share this with our readers.
If the real answer involves attention or “likes” or anything beyond a larger benefit for the community as a whole then, in my sometimes-humble opinion, we should keep it to ourselves until it has more time to become something better.
This article is actually something I’ve been processing for several months and finally decided to share.
I’ve asked myself the above questions repeatedly, and the reason I want to address this as a writer is because, as a reader, I’m getting alternately bored and irritated with being bombarded with words that I think a therapist should be reading instead of me.
But, seriously, there’s enough crap being put out there for us to read. Do we really want to add to it, simply because it’s easy for people to click on, or because we want to do that writer thing of bleeding through our fingertips?
Sometimes writing should have some gauze and band-aids slapped on it before it’s bled out into the world.
Sometimes emotions are not reality. Sometimes mindful living means getting far enough outside of ourselves that we connect with something larger, something broader—something more valuable.
It’s my intention that we, as writers and readers, demand more from ourselves.
We should demand emotion that’s raw and real, but not saccharine and cheesy.
We should demand mindful living and not over-indulging in our internal human experience.
We should demand that journalism and writing be helpful for our world and not money-driven slop that internet trolls benefit from.
We should offer words of benefit because we believe that we have the ability to create an impact.
“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” ~ Jackie Robinson
The Dalai Lama advised two things when asked how to work with her anger at her sexually abusive father.
Author: Jennifer White
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock