Dear Writerly Woman,
Writing my first blog post was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life.
Up until that point, writing had always been on the periphery for me.
Yes, I loved literature and was a devoted English major.
Sure, now and again a story would fly through me, get recorded on a Word Doc, and end up lost somewhere on my computer.
And, yeah, my bosses always complimented me on my ability to write a clear and concise email.
But writing, like the kind of writing I dreamed of doing, was something I put off for the future.
I knew I wanted to write someday, but I had no idea when that someday would be.
Four years ago, I found myself creating an online business and decided to start things off with a blog.
This was the first truly vulnerable writing I had done, maybe ever.
With all my English majoring and dreaming about writing, I hadn't once considered how terrifying it would feel to put my truth on the page.
I sat in front of the computer, shocked by the intensity of my fear.
My fear was then amplified by all the critical voices in my head.
I heard the whiny, wet blanket critical voices of my family.
I heard the staunch and serious critical voices of my college professors.
I heard the mean and vindictive critical voices of my playground bullies.
They were all saying the same thing: "This is terrible. You're a horrible writer. You're so freaking weird. Everyone is going to think you're insane."
Honestly, these were the voices that popped up every time I tried to do something interesting or creative in my life.
Up until that point I had always listened to them. There are so many interesting ideas I never pursued because of those voices.
Maybe it was some strange alignment of the stars, or maybe my soul finally had enough, but that day I had a sudden insight which changed everything forever.
All of a sudden I knew, deep in my bones, that writing my blog wasn't about the potentially critical people who might read and respond to my work.
Writing my blog was about freeing my own voice.
I knew if I wrote that post, and kept writing, I would break free from the trap of the inner critic.
I also knew if I chose to back down and not write, I would continue on as I always had - living in a cycle of shame that kept me away from my dreams.
This insight helped me see a deeper purpose to my writing.
It was this purpose, to free my own voice, that emboldened me to write.
It took me about a month to write my first post. Getting my creativity flowing was a slow process.
I took it easy with how much I shared my post after hitting publish.
First, I let myself get used to the idea of my words being on my website for anyone to find.
When my entire life didn't come crashing down, I slowly wrote another post and emailed it to my best friend.
After surviving that I kept slowly writing and including more people in my circle of sharing.
Each time I wrote I faced those voices, and each time I kept writing, I broke free a little more.
I started off by saying simple truths that felt possible to share.
Overtime I shared harder truths, at least for me.
I found out it was possible to experience a vulnerability hangover and live.
I discovered it was possible to share my work and feel proud, not squished like a tiny bug by shame.
I found out it was possible to receive appreciative responses, not just nasty criticism, from readers.
The more I wrote, the more I shared, and the more courageous I became.
My inner voice got stronger and stronger, and I felt freer and freer.
The effects of this rippled out beyond my blog.
When I had an idea for a children's novel, I didn't immediately dismiss it. I actually wrote.
Right now, the first draft is done, and I'm working on edits.
When I found myself needing to say vulnerable truths to people I love, I found myself saying them.
This has transformed my closest relationships.
When I had an idea for an online book club where we would read Women Who Run With the Wolves by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, I was scared but did it anyway!
I've been leading a community of 700+ women through the book for 2 and a half years.
The choice I made that day, to show up and do the scary thing to heal my voice, has literally changed my life.
When I talk about writing and getting words on the page, I am not talking about a frivolous pursuit.
I am talking about the transformative power freeing your voice can have on your life.
I am talking about getting to experience the wonderful satisfaction of doing the creative work you long to do.
I am talking about how writing what you really want to write helps you say what you really want to say and do what you really want to do in life.
Freeing your voice on the page creates freedom overall.
And then the best thing happens.
The freed voices of women who came before me helped emboldened me to write.
Now my free voice ripples outwards to other women, encouraging them to write.
And your free voice will ripple outwards too, and encourage others.
This is the magical thing: even though writing often happens in isolation, while we're alone on our computers or with pens in our hands, it has the power to change the whole world.
Are you in?
To get started with writing ask yourself what's the one true thing you really want to say today, and write it down. Use any handy writing implements. This one truth, written down, could be the beginning of a new life.
P.S. My new group program, Free Your Voice, is starting in 10 days, on Sunday September 15! This is for you if you are a woman with something to say, who wants to write, but struggles to get words on the page. Ready to free your voice? LEARN MORE HERE