I have two quotes hanging on the wall in my office:
Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open.
~ Natalie Goldberg
Write hard and clear about what hurts.
~ Ernest Hemingway
Yesterday I spent four hours being split open as I wrote hard and clear about something that was disturbing me. Four hours spent writing, ruminating, rewriting, deleting, reflecting, deleting, pondering, writing, and playing with words. It was exhausting.
The writing marathon started out as an idea for a quick blog post, but as my fingers flew over my keyboard I found myself going in a different direction. What started out as one thing turned into another, and the words took me to a deep place as grief bubbled to the surface and I wrote through the pain. It turns out that what I wrote won’t become a blog post after all because it’s too personal.
So why I am bringing it up at all? I was reminded yesterday that there is a healing power in writing. Maybe you need a reminder too.
It took me about four years to finish writing my memoir Two Hearts: An Adoptee’s Journey Through Grief to Gratitude. Four years of writing, yes, but also four years of working through deep grief and learning much about myself. A few years ago I participated in a panel discussion at the American Adoption Congress called The Healing Power of Writing Our Truths. I have used journaling to help me through the darkest times of my life. I’m no stranger to using writing to help me find understanding and healing so one might think I wouldn’t need a reminder, but I did.
When I finally stopped writing yesterday I posted a status update on Facebook that included a meme with Hemingway’s wise words.
You may be familiar with a Facebook feature called On This Day that gives you the ability to see things you’ve posted on the same day in years gone by. This afternoon, I took a look at my On This Day and was surprised to find that two years ago I posted the very same quote.
Coincidence? Could be. The thing is that I don’t believe in coincidence so for me it’s something else. I was reminded in church today how God meets us in unique ways that are especially suited to the way we are wired as individuals. Was this a reminder to me about the power of writing to help me heal, learn, and sort through the chaos of life? A confirmation that writing is an important part of who I was created to be? Or maybe it was a subtle nudge to commit to one of the writing projects I’ve been dabbling with for the past few months.
I don’t know for sure, but I do know I’ll use writing to help me figure it out.