For some reason, I’ve hit a wall in my writing lately. Every time I sit down to write a post or take my journal out to write or even sit down at work to draft up some template emails…nothing comes out. I don’t know what is going on. Every now and then I hit these rough patches and I can’t seem to get anything onto paper. And I must say, my well-being greatly declines! Writing is good for my soul.
My journey with writing began when I was just a wee lass… The first real memory I have of even thinking about writing was after watching Harriet the Spy. At six years old, I knew I needed a journal of my own. Throughout elementary school I had loads of diaries, in which I would only fill a couple pages of before discarding it and moving on to the next one. Finding these childhood musings are hilarious, because as ridiculous as they are, it’s awesome to realize I was already using writing as an outlet before I even knew what it meant to have an outlet. I was writing about being frustrated with my younger brother, about the cute boy at school who just didn’t seem to notice me, and about how much I hated having to move away from the house I was born in. Around this same time, my mom also had me start journaling every night, making a list of a few things I was thankful for. Since we didn’t grow up with religion or prayer, I think this was my mom’s way of reminding us to reflect and be grateful for the lives we were given. (Ah, what a wonderful woman she was. Seriously, anything good in me is thanks to having her.)
Moving onto middle school, I slipped into my emo phase and writing became even more important to me. During this time, journaling moved from the random pink and purple diaries, adorned with Lisa Frank stickers and hand drawn hearts, littered about my room, to an online platform. I was an avid blogger before I even knew the word blogging existed. I started off writing on a wbeiste called Blurty (because Xanga was for the weird goth girls or the Asians, and I was clearly an emo kid) before moving on to Livejournal in high school. I really don’t know how I would have made it through middle school without my Blurty. Not only was it somewhere I updated about my daily life: who I was hanging out with, what was going on at school, how frustrating it was to be in love with your best friend who didn’t love you back, etc. It also served a place for me to process my mom’s disease and what it meant to be losing your mom at such a young age. Looking back through those entries breaks my heart but also amazes because I was so aware of how I would feel. With each sentence I wrote, I knew how much it was going to hurt and I was preparing myself for it. I remember at one point my mom found my online journal and started leaving anonymous comments — when I found out it was her I was SO PISSED and felt like my privacy had been violated. This is probably a sign of how private I would be about my writing even as I got older. This Blurty was also a platform for me to try out more creative forms of writing… There is definitely a poem or two published on there, a writing form I wouldn’t revisit until college.
High school is when writing became a more consistent part of my daily life. Not only was I writing in my Livejournal on a daily basis, but I was also on the school newspaper, and acted as editor-in-chief for three years. This gave me the chance to write in a more public way than ever before. Of course, I wrote typical news articles, covering the girl’s tennis team and the change in cafeteria policy, but I was also able to share my opinions. As someone who was raised to share her opinions and not just accept the status-quo it was so liberating and exciting to finally have a platform where I can explain my beliefs and people would read them! Thinking back, I’m sure nobody read my column. Keeping up with my Livejournal also provides me a way of remembering exactly what it felt like to be me at that time: dealing with the death of my mom and falling in love for the first time.
College is sort of the dark-ages when it comes to my affair with the written word. Though I started off as a Journalism major, I no longer viewed writing as something to be done for pleasure. This was ultimately the reason I dropped journalism and picked up psychology, along with realizing you don’t need a journalism degree to be a writer. I never want writing to be a chore… It’s far too important to my sanity to be something I don’t enjoy doing in my free time as well. After realizing this and shifting my vision on my craft, I once again started to enjoy writing. I bought a journal and vowed to write in it until I filled up every page. To carry it with me no matter what. (I just pulled it out of my purse and looked back at the first entry, dated in August 2010). While it still isn’t full, it’s always with me and I continue to write in it on a frequent basis. But not frequent enough.
All this being said, what I’ve discovered is that even with my writing I’m falling into a comfort zone. Writing for TNTML has weirdly tricked my mind into thinking that I’m doing enough. That I’m processing enough through my weekly posts. That there is no need for more writing. But I couldn’t be more wrong. Writing is about more than just having other people read it, it’s the way in which I learn the most about myself. Honestly, I’ve had more realizations about who I am and what I want and why I do what I do while writing than I have doing anything else. Sitting at the beach, journal and chai in hand is probably when I am most at peace. But at the same time, randomly pulling out my journal at a red light to jot down a thought is equally as vital to who I am as Chelsea. The written word connects with me on this other level I can’t even explain. I know I’m not an incredible writer. I wish my mastery over language was stronger. But this is all something I’m working on!
So as I push myself out of my comfort zone in extrinsic ways, I need to focus on pushing myself intrinsically as well. Most of the ways I have challenged myself are in ways others can hold me accountable so I am a little scared to try something that others won’t know if I’m succeeding at or not. But I want to write more; I’m tired of feeling like a phony when telling people I’m a writer. So here’s the plan: I am going to try and write every single day, and writing for work does not count. Before bed, I will pull my journal out and pour out whatever comes to mind. I love the practice of stream of consciousness writing. It’s not only great for your creativity but also so good to just see where your mind goes. I am also going to work on reaching out to other blogs and seeing if I can contribute anywhere else. TNTML is the perfect place to write about the journey about coming out of my comfort zone, but there are so many sides to me and I really miss sharing my opinion on social issues so I hope to find a place to share those. If not, I’ll keep them on my personal blog (which I am going to start updating with all of these posts and old writing from high school/college). I also want to give myself the freedom to write more creatively, whether that means poetry or fiction, I don’t really know. But it’s going to happen and I can’t wait. Oh, and as an aside to this I’m going to start reading more. Basically every time I go through a writing dry spell, I also pull back on how much I read. Friends, you will all know when I’m writing more regularly because I am so much more in touch with myself and overall a better version of Chelsea.
What do you nerds to do as a way of processing and being more in touch with your true self? Tweet me! I want to hear about it. And please please please send me book suggestions.