Today, I had the pleasure of joining the final meeting of Elephant Academy’s fall session as a special guest.
As someone who joined the Academy seven years ago as a timid, “wannabe” writer who was terrified of sharing my work with anyone, let alone a group of strangers and subsequently the whole internet, it feels surreal when I’m asked to join these meetings and talk about writing with any sense of wisdom or authority.
Even after almost 200 published articles, I still find myself struggling with feeling stuck and uninspired and unmotivated.
With feeling like I don’t know what I’m doing or am clumsily searching for my path.
With feeling like I’m trying too hard or not hard enough.
With feeling like I want to share everything I’m feeling or thinking in one moment and wanting to be fiercely private with those same feelings and thoughts in the next.
With feeling like my ideas aren’t original and my feelings aren’t valid and my commentary isn’t worthy of being shared.
Yet, I continue writing. I continue the art of living so that I may have something to write about.
And it’s only when I sit down to write or to talk about the process of writing (and living) with those who are following a similar path that I am able to see how far I’ve come from the little girl who used to quietly write stories in a black and white marble composition book. And the teenager who used to write long, elaborate, heartfelt love letters to her boyfriend. And the college student who used to sit in the honors essay writing class hoping her professor wouldn’t ask her to read her piece out loud, while desperately longing to share her words with others.
It is through conversation and connection and experience that I am able to see my own growth. To see that even on the days when I don’t trust myself, when I’m feeling blocked, when I’m questioning every choice and every word that I do genuinely have something valuable to share.
I think we all do. And whether we choose to share what we’ve learned, and are still learning, through writing or some other form of expression, what’s most important is that we show up fully for ourselves and our lives so we can share from a genuine place.
And the only way to show up for ourselves is to be aware, to breathe through each moment, to take chances.
I walked away from the Academy meeting feeling motivated and encouraged, but quickly found myself in a familiar situation: it’s Thursday afternoon, I need to write an article before my weekend, and I have zero ideas in my brain. Like nothing. Crickets…
All the struggle feelings were slowly bubbling up inside me. I started writing about three completely different topics and they all felt icky and inauthentic and forced. So I took a break and reengaged in my life.
As I stood in my closet putting laundry away, I glanced at my quote board and my eyes focused in on 16 words from author Susan Sontag that felt weirdly appropriate.
It’s a quote for anyone who longs to show up for themselves. For anyone who is committed to being more aware. For anyone who is prepared to take chances, no matter how clumsy they may feel.
It’s a quote for every writer—and, honestly, for anyone who wants to live a life worth writing about:
“Do stuff. Be clenched, curious. Not waiting for inspiration’s shove or society’s kiss on your forehead.”
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