Long before I was a Writer, I was a doodler, a scribbler, a sketcher, a rhymer, a free-former, an inventor of nonsensical wordicals.
I wrote instinctively, loosely, playfully. I didn’t take myself Too Seriously.
There was no anxiety in my writing, only joy.
Writing was the tool I used to make make sense of my me.
I made a huge mistake when I became a Professional Writer: I made writing into work. I stopped playing. I stopped journaling. I stopped writing just for me. Every word, every post, every tweet, every update was For Others.
Not journaling was a form of self-abandonment, self-starvation, donating blood until I bled myself dry. Things became dire when I tried to write a book. My Professional Writing was coming from a place of personal scarcity. The first two drafts of my book were a messy, meager offering.
I needed more and I didn’t know where to get it.
One year ago I picked up a journal–out of desperation–and wrote a one-line journal entry: 3/2/13: This morning I reworked chapter one for the fourth or fifth time–I’ve lost track.
I’d lost track of everything. Of myself. Of my story. Of my me.
I’d forgotten what I already knew: that before I could feed others, I had to feed myself.
It took me twenty minutes to write one line in my journal. There was a time when I could journal pages and pages. But that morning, I could barely eke out one sentence.
Still, it was a start. A tiny start back to myself. My True Me was trying to surface and she’d been ignored for so very long. The first thing that came out of me was a cry for help. When I re-read that journal entry from a year ago this is what I hear: I’ve been working so hard and nothing is working! I don’t know who I am anymore! I am lost! I feel like giving up!
It’s been a year and I’ve since filled four full journals. All for me. Just for me. I have written my way back to myself. Every day I have fed myself first.
The words that came out surprised me. What? THAT’S what you’re thinking? I had no idea! I didn’t know I had buried so many words until I started writing them.
As a writer, I don’t know who I am until I start writing. I don’t know what I think or feel until I put it down on paper.
In my journal, I made a safe, non-judgmental space for the words that wanted to breathe, the ones that needed to come out and take a little walk in the sunshine. Nobody but me would read the words. There would be no comment boxes weighing in on my words. No tweets. No FB shares. I could talk to myself, to God, to my fears, to whatever mysterious thing that needed to swim up out of my deep subconscious without worrying or thinking about What Others Thought About My Writing.
I wrote and I wrote and I wrote. I was shocked by the sheer volume of words that poured out. Apparently, there was a huge backlog of words that needed airing.
Eventually, the torrent eased a bit and I fell into a quieter routine of daily journaling.
For me, the act of journaling is meditative. Pen and paper are the tools I use to sift through the loose rock, gravel and dirt until I come across a golden nugget. A single word. A phrase, perhaps. And when I feel that internal YES! Here it is! That’s when I know I’ve journaled my way Home.
That’s when I know I’ve found myself again.