The Brave Writer: How Words Release Your Soul

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Image: Chance Agrella (freerangestock.com)

How many times have you found yourself unable to express your feelings? Have you ever felt nothing could get your emotions out no matter how much you tried?

I’ve been there, a lot. Speaking as a child was always hard. You never felt listened to, you stuttered or messed up your words. People made fun of you for what you said, serious or not. I think we can all agree that words hurt, A LOT, just as they can heal, inspire, make us laugh and anger us.

But what would any of us be without words? Without words, we would not be able to express our feelings to someone, learn something new, talk things out and inspire many readers around the world. I guess I’ve been thinking of that more lately after a post I wrote on LinkedIn. As some of you may know, the job search can be tough. It’s easy to forget that others are struggling, feel discouraged and hopeless and lose their confidence just like you do. I decided to write about it on LinkedIn and I know plenty of you saw my last post here because I mentioned it there. I was overwhelmed by those who found comfort in my words and felt less alone, encouraged by another sharing their story and being brave enough to do it.

We should all aspire to be brave and write how we feel, even if it’s hard.

I’d like to say something about words, not just as a writer, but as a person.

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Image: Freerange Stock Archives (freerangestock.com)

Our words can still make a difference. To speak them, however, an ounce of bravery and taking a leap of faith is required. Sometimes your words will be praised, other times rejected. You also have the times where people will lash out for reasons we may never know nor understand.

Then there is the silence where no words are shared at all. It’s there I feel not just us writers, but all of us worry and get scared. We worry if we offended someone, that we said something wrong or…maybe people are just left speechless in a good way that they cannot find the words to express their emotions.

For me, words scarred my heart for a long time. But, words have also mended and healed when I never asked for them. I know with this blog it has been a leap of faith to share my thoughts in a forum of this magnitude. There are many more blogs out there besides my own that people read and respond to in different ways. Writing words helps us be open, honest and get things off our chest that we may not be able to verbally. Whether we write them in a journal, a blog, on social media and so on, writing helps us speak truth.

Maybe more of us should do that more often.

So express yourself using the words in your heart. Write them out if you cannot say them aloud. You might feel different and just might inspire someone you’ve never met later on to write out their feelings too.

Happy writing!

I also want to quickly say to all those who checked out my LinkedIn post, thank you :). Also, my Book of the Month for September is up! Go to Book of the Month 2017 in the menu and look for September. Enjoy!

 

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A Writer’s Lament: Losing Heart in an Ever-Changing World

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Image: PaulCristianGeletu (freerangestock.com)

I want to begin this post by thanking everyone who was understanding of my break from blogging. Decisions involving what you love to do, or anything in general really, are never easy to make.

As I write this, it’s about the middle of September. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have ravaged Texas and Florida and the Caribbean, I found myself losing faith in my fellow man after Charlottesville, my creativity stalled altogether and the job search…becoming hopeless…feeling I was stupid for wanting to do what I love instead of playing it “safe” by going for a career where I was secured a position upon graduation.

I also found myself withdrawing from a writing opportunity with BuzzFeed for their upcoming Mental Health Awareness Week, feeling if I talked about my struggles and shared my insights, that would make career prospects even worse.

My work with YAYWORLD and HEAL(er) Mag have been nothing short of inspiring, encouraging and fulfilling. I guess I just wish there was a way I could do more things like that where I could be myself, talk about what I love and feel I’m making a difference for someone. (If you want to check out my YAYWORLD and HEAL(er) Mag contributions, go to the Portfolio tab)

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Image: Jack Moreh (freerangestock.com)

The world is not what I imagined it would be when I reached 24 years old.

I’m sharing these negative emotions because I think us writers–and any artists–like pretending we’re fine and having a smile on our face when, deep down, we are falling apart and sad. That’s why The Writing Desk by Rachel Hauck (and Book Pick for August) resonated with me. I feel like a fraud, a failure, flop and mistake.

You don’t see tears being shed when my bedroom door is closed, asking God why He has forsaken me and what did I do wrong to be going through what I am.

You feel like people don’t see the real you: the imperfect but passionate, loving, real and hardworking you who just needs more people to take a chance on her. Who sees someone who loves to write and will make things brighter through words.

You just don’t feel good enough.

Someone told me recently that I am a little timid about writing, and it’s true. I am because I take my work seriously, carefully considering my intent, topic, words and story to share. I want to share the positive, but sometimes I want to be honest about the difficult things.

Writing is who I am; what saved my life as a teenager when I had no idea what I wanted to do. Writing brought out my authentic self when I couldn’t express my heart in any other way. Give me a word, theme, whatever and I’d write something.

Maybe these emotions come from further research about the writing and publishing industry through seeing the stories that I have about books (if you’re part of the Young Adult book community or avid reader you know what I’m talking about), the jobs where they want experience you don’t even have yet and just wondering how you could ever measure up to writers you always loved, admired and respected. You stop writing your novel, you forget about short stories, and you really ask yourself…

How can I write in a world where people can be so mean to each other, so quick to judge one another and where you are overlooked for a job because of something you just don’t have even when you fit?

Do you see me, or just the stories I choose to write about and share?

How can we find heart again when we lose so much in so short a time?

Why can’t we remember our self-worth–as writers and as human beings–when times get hard?

I Need a Break

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Image: Merelize (Freerangestock.com)

I know, once again, I haven’t written new blog posts. But I realized today I need to take time away for a while. My motivation is missing, I feel uninspired and don’t know what to even say…and I feel I’m doing a disservice by leaving people in the dark when there hasn’t been a new post for a couple of weeks.

I will continue my Book of the Month posts and the one in August will be up when my book pick has been read. I just feel really lost right now and need to walk away.

Let me assure everyone right here, right now, this is NOT the end of this blog nor am I leaving altogether. I just need to take a small hiatus…and think things over.

Hopefully when I come back and start posting again, things will be different and I can share that with all of you. I think it’s easy to act like you have it all together and pretend everything is fine when it’s not. In writing, that can happen because of how you choose which words to utter or withhold from your audience.

But I have always been a firm believer in being honest and holding myself accountable when I don’t put my best foot forward, and there are times I do, and times I don’t. I’m only human at the end of the day…and sometimes need to take a step back.

I don’t care if I lose followers on social media or here. Sometimes I need to remember ME and not what I expect from others in terms of views or comments.

I will be back, and hopefully a lot stronger the next time around.

The Importance of Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

 

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Image: Jack Moreh (Freerangestock.com)

I have done something I should have done a long time ago. I learned this, finally, during my time in college.

Stepping out of your comfort zone. You see, it’s very easy for us, especially writers, to wanna “play it safe” with their work, or life in general. We worry about other people’s opinions, what the Internet or media would say and how family and friends would take our ideas.

My time in college forced me to step out of my comfort zone in terms of faith, confidence, communication and, ultimately, my passion. Some of you may know that in 2015, my final year of school, I lost my confidence.

Ir was the emptiest feeling I’ve ever had in my life. It happened because of those fears of other people, and even myself because of what I could really do. For a couple weeks, I managed to type out response logs for a class and write out papers, but it became harder. I kept doubting myself, I felt my work was horrible and unoriginal. That my ideas were silly.

I always preferred writing fiction or plays and monologues. Poetry I always did on a whim. Maybe I just needed to take a break. Make more time for books beyond schoolwork and write for myself and not for classes. That is a lesson I’m still working on to this day.

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Image: Stuart Miles (Freerangestock.com)

Sometimes, you find yourself and shine most when you step out of the safety net. When I wrote a poem for myself, I found my confidence again. The feeling of accomplishing, albeit small and short, a written piece for myself made all the difference. My work with my alma mater’s Center for Religious and Spiritual Life sustained me too; leaving me fulfilled and proud of the stories I’ve covered, the people I’ve interviewed and learning about faith and life.

Since college, I try new things more: the MasterClass on writing taught by James Patterson, writing posts for this new website called YAYWORLD, wanting to do a serial fiction piece for Radish, this blog.

I’m not gonna lie and say stepping out to try something new happens overnight. It takes time. For me it’s taken a couple of years. At 24, I’m still learning and bettering myself, gaining confidence a day at a time.

Don’t be afraid, even in your writing, to check out other outlets to share your work, new genres you like reading and other writing forms.

How do you as a writer try to step out of your comfort zone?

 

Going Forward: What’s Next When Things Go Wrong

I would like to begin this post thanking everyone who checked out my prior post. I have sincerely appreciated and am grateful for the views. It wasn’t easy, but my best writing comes out when I’m honest and not hiding how I’m feeling.

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Image: Jack Moreh (Freerangestock.com)

As I write this, I wonder how many of us found ourselves in this position. When they realize they’ve lost direction and debate how to move forward. Unfortunately, life doesn’t change overnight no matter how much–and I’ve done this too!–we wish for it. Sometimes the only thing you can really do is focus on what you can control in your life verses what you can’t.

I think it’s pretty easy for us to let life pass us by and bemoan at our failed dreams.

But…when you really think about it, is it all really THAT hopeless?

How many of you have heard the phrase, “This too shall pass”? Or, “There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel”? Like me, you have probably told yourself these phrases, but felt at times they weren’t making a difference. Even when clarity does arrive, you feel the regrets pounding at your door: You should have done this or that or why didn’t I do this, etc.

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Image: Chance Agrella (Freerangestock.com)

That’s human. We are human. When I turned 24 a few weeks ago, I felt like I could take a deep breath and put my 23rd year behind me. Are the regrets around? Yes, they are. Are the struggles still here? Yep, they are.

But, the past doesn’t have to be.

How many of you wished you finished a book sooner? Wished you had entered that writing contest you ended up forgetting about? Wished you had taken the time to sit down at your computer, or grab that notebook, and write? Or, regretted something you wrote because you felt there was more you wanted to say that you didn’t consider before?

Here’s the thing. That’s the past. At this very moment, how much do we really have to lose? Go back to that book or start fresh. Watch for every contest opportunity and go for it by making a list and calendar tracking deadlines, word counts and other guidelines. With something you already did, you can always rewrite. Plus, the rewrite could become inspiration for a newer story you could be proud of.

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Image: Jack Moreh (Freerangestock.com)

My fellow writers, going forward can be just as hard as realizing your feelings about things that matter to you, being honest with yourself about your mistakes and returning to your unfinished work, wondering why you stopped in the first place. You will get back up, but also face trials within yourself, from others and the curve-balls of life.

The key is not letting the past, those regrets and emotions win.

We all have the power to go forward.

We just need to take that first step, and take it one day at a time.

 

 

Faith, Passion, Honesty and Unemployment: We All Lose Direction, Including Writers

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Image: Jack Moreh (Freerangestock.com)

I know it has been two weeks since my last post, and I apologize for that sudden disappearance and hiatus. One part was embarrassment and self-doubt because of the current situations in my personal life, a lack of inspiration and feeling, once again, hopeless and I wasn’t impacting people with my words and thoughts and…as I’ve begun to realize, a sense of loss.

Everyone who has read this blog is aware I have been struggling with a difficult job search since graduating from college in 2016. You are all also aware of my faith in God. I try my very best not to preach or share too much because I don’t wish to alienate readers who may be of a different religion, or none at all, than I am.

The past few weeks I put my reading of A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley on hold so I could focus on career reference books. Some anecdotes the books had were useful, others a refresher and a few sections that didn’t fit my current situation and were skipped. I also found certain exercises helped me better understand myself and interests such as the Wandering Map exercise from You Majored in What? Mapping Your Path from Chaos to Career by Katharine Brooks, ED.D.

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Image: Amazon.com

But one section caught my eye this morning from the 2016 edition of What Color is Your Parachute? by Richard Bolles. The section was near the end in the Blue Pages or Appendix: “A Guide to Deal with Your Feelings While Out of Work.”

That jumped out at me immediately even though I skimmed some of what was said, until I reached the area about religion. How many of us have discovered a section dedicated to religion in a book about job searching? Probably not a lot.

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Image: Stuart Miles (Freerangestock.com)

With many things, I have felt my faith has been waning for many months now, my love for writing was one of the things I was losing heart with as well. The section in the Blue Pages talked about rethinking your faith opposed to abandoning it. As I read the paragraphs, I paused here: “A faith that thinks God is responsible for our unemployment, and He could have and should have prevented it, needs to grow up. It is too small a faith. It has too small a God” (296).

I have joked to friends I am “o ye of little faith” because I doubt and give up so easily when things go wrong in my life. That passage hit close to home for me. The following page contained a chart comparing a healthy religion and an unhealthy religion through gratitude and guilt, viewing the world as us or us v. them and the desire for God’s forgiveness and vengeance.

My energy has been spent, my faith feeling, frankly, small. I think if you take out unemployment, anyone can apply that passage to an unanswered prayer in their life, including writing. Feeling God is responsible for our story being rejected, a book not selling well, a writing habit falling apart. Writer’s Block too.

I have lost direction for many months and it’s been hard, hurting my heart and soul and my passion. Please know you are not alone if you are going through the same emotions right now.

I hope things will change soon, and my faith will become stronger once all is set and done. Opportunities are coming my way. I just have to take it a day at a time.

Please forgive me if I do not get to my Book of the Month pick for June. I’ll make up for it as I’ve done before.

Be kind to yourself and take time to breathe, because that’s how you find clarity, and hope, in your dreams and life again.

Have You Taken a Long Break from Your Book? You’re Not Alone

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Titled “Clean modern desk with laptop” by StartUpStock Photos; Credit: freerangestock.com

I got an email today from writing website, The Write Practice, with this encouraging article that I felt like sharing today. The article was written by Monica M. Clark, titled “How to Start Your Book Again After a Long Break.” Apologies for no post last week; the job search and other personal matters had my attention.

Last November, I participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) for the very first time. I shared my experience in a prior post, which you can find here. There are lot of things I could have done differently, and frankly? I felt it stopped my love and desire to write a novel. Not because it was hard, that’s to be expected. But what I wrote…just didn’t come out as I had hoped. Plus, other ideas were bouncing around in my head which made it a lot more overwhelming for me.

So after NaNoWriMo, I took a break. Unfortunately, for four months I wasn’t writing. No short stories, no novel ideas, no poetry and no ideas for a play or monologue. The only writings happening really were for this blog!

It’s been hard. Even though I am writing 500 words a day 3 or 4 times a week…I guess it doesn’t feel right yet. Plus, I’ve been delving into fanfiction which is how writing, for me, started.

So when I read this article today, it felt like the answer I needed. What I love about articles from The Write Practice is how they break down the sections so it’s easier to find what you’re looking for and review what you already know. As you’ll see from Monica’s article, it’s broken down into 3 sections with a bonus anecdote about picking up your old writing projects being tough, but worth it.

My writing project ended up close to 20,000 words, maybe a little less. So basically a third of the way to the 50,000 minimum for a novel. Can I make my way back? Yes, I can. Will it be hard? Certainly!

But if it leads to an even better draft, then it’s worth it.

Also, if you’re unsure about word counts for your writing, this article from The Write Life is also a good read. It breaks the categories down by genre, age for Children’s Books and forms of fiction and nonfiction. Just remember, though, the numbers are the average range so if your word count is lower or higher than these numbers, that’s totally okay! For me though, aiming for slightly over the average might be a good rule of thumb. Keep an open mind!