27 Ways To Tell a True Story
Write from where you are. Don’t think about what others might want to hear. Think about what’s moving through you. What’s actually moving through you now; the man you ended a relationship with a few months ago who you know you shouldn’t text or call. How the last two men you dated have been posting up a storm on Instagram, pictures of their new girlfriends and their travels together. Write about how even though those relationships weren’t right for you, you still go over and over in your mind how you might have made them work. Write about how the sweet one said, “I’m just a simple guy who wants to love and be loved,” and how that echoed in your head for months, how you wondered if you were too complicated for love…
Write about how self-care looks like a concentrated effort at avoiding Instagram because you know that’ll only make you feel bad about yourself. Write about the long walk you took in your neighborhood, fighting back tears, one foot in the “I’ve got this” camp, the other in the “What’s my problem?” camp. Don’t think about something better to write. Write about how every single person you pass on that walk seems as lonely and uncomfortable as you are; putting on a good face – trying to seem like they have it together – like they’re going somewhere – just like you. Write about this. Start where you are because that is a real place, and I’m telling you, there is nothing better to write about.
If you reject where you are because it’s not where you want to be, and you want to write about something cheerier, more acceptable to others, good luck. It’ll be exactly like plastering a smile on your face – the kind of smile that looks like you’re about to burst into tears. It’ll read stiffly, the reader will smell a rat. If you pretend that what’s moving through you is not important or makes you look stupid, if you believe that there is a better you that is more writerly and more lovable, you will miss the dark, rich dripping juice of now. You will also miss connecting with other people because that same rich juice flows through them.
Trust me, you will make a more solid connection with yourself and with your reader if you tell it like is. Name the aloneness, the worry, the shame, the wondering aloud if there’s something wrong with you or if you’re just fine. Show us the walk, the tears bright in your eyes. Show us the fire you made for yourself on Friday night and how you sat on the carpet, quietly feeding logs into the stove for hours, not saying a word. You can share this writing, or write it for yourself – that’s just as good. But write it, and if you do have the courage to share it, notice the feedback you’ll get from others, how they’ll come out from behind their cheery masks to tell you what your writing means to them. Consider that writing what’s real is healing, not just for you, but for others as well.
Will you look like a fool? No, you’ll look like a human being. We’re all made from the same stuff. We’re got different details, different circumstances, but we all know exactly what it feels like to want to call someone, but not know who to call. Will people judge you, distance themselves, get off your mailing list, think you stink? Maybe. Keep writing. If you write to make people happy you’re sunk. Learn to listen and to trust your own gorgeous self no matter where you are. The more you hide what’s real and wait for a shinier self to waddle on in, the less your writing will live in the blindingly bright current of now. The less it’ll matter to you and to others.
You’ll get a lot more ink on the page when you have a writing buddy, and writing will be more fun. 27 Wild Days, my 27-day Wild Writing video series is being offered as a 2 for 1, now through the month of February. You sign up and a friend flies free.