I suppose this is probably why I made a career out of being a public speaker, trainer, and coach. Some part of me knew I needed to get out in front of my shyness or I would never realize the deep dreams I held inside.
Speaking to people is one way to let others know what’s inside you. Recently, I have discovered another, and at least for me, more vulnerable medium: the written word.
I recently joined a writer’s workshop in San Francisco with a focus on fiction. The group of mostly published writers meets weekly for ten weeks. Each week, we are given an assignment, to write in the style of an author that our writing coach reads to us. And each week we bring our work, pass it around, and have someone else read it aloud. After several minutes of dead silence, the others in the room critique our writing, during which we are not allowed to defend, justify or explain our writing, while the feedback is given.
I love it. I also don’t love it, because it makes me very uncomfortable to know that something I wrote down is now being evaluated by others. Just behind the fear of ridicule, or worse, apathy, I’ve learned some important lessons.
- You need feedback — Feedback opens a channel to the world around you. If you close it down, or make sure you never get it, you may miss valuable information that could make you better at what you do, and to how well you get your points across.
- Writing is therapy — When you open your soul and express what you find there, without reservation, you will find new territory, and perhaps a way of looking you did not see before. For instance, by describing a symbol in a dream, you may find a nuance that was unavailable to you when it first floated through your mind. Or you might discover that when you write down your thoughts they run in circles, with no resolution, which allows you to rewrite your personal story the way you want it.
- Writing makes it real — I can’t explain this one, but I know it to be true. When you take the time to write down your thoughts, goals, or dreams, they become part of the physical world. This was brought home to me the other day when Paulette brought in a paper from our treasure box, that we had written and signed several years ago. On this wrinkled, aged paper was a list of goals, among which was to own a second home in Santa Barbara, which at the time of writing was really more of a wish because we had no physical evidence for making it real. It came about that very year, with almost no effort on our part, through the help of a small group of friends who asked if we wanted to go in together on a house in Montecito, which we did. I am convinced that the universe responded to the physical act of writing down our intention.
- Writing is fun — We make up stuff all the time. We see someone in a restaurant and we make up a story about them. We imagine what our life could be like if we won the lottery. We are so good at making stuff up, we might not even know we’re doing it. When you give yourself permission to make up a fictional account, and you know it, you make an unconscious act a deliberate one. And if you don’t get too caught up in being right about it, you can make it fun and creative.
My encouragement this week is to write yourself. Give your inside self the freedom, through the written word, to be fully expressed. And if you’re willing, let others in on it. Start a blog, write someone you’ve been out of contact with for too long, write a love letter to someone you care about.
Say it your way. In your words. And use what you write as a way to inquire into who you are, what you hold to be true, what is most important to you, and what you want to create for the next part of your journey through life.