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It’s a writer’s dream, at least it is for me.
I hit publish, and I’ll drift off to sleep only to be rudely awakened by numerous notifications on my phone and see my article has gone viral!
Countless eyeballs around the globe, marveling at our writing mastery and ability to weave words into a message that hits home. A statement that creates a ripple effect and leads to change.
I would be lying if I said my inner writer never yearns or even entertains what it might feel like for my writing to go crazy viral. The kind of viral that changed Glennon Doyle’s life forever after she latched onto a Facebook list trend, “25 Things About Me,” in which she wrote about her conflicting feelings about parenthood, marriage, and existence in general.
Hours after posting her raw and honest list, Doyle’s inbox was flooded with messages that read, “I never knew…” and, “Me too!”
Nothing will crush a writer’s ego quite like seeing no response to a post, but the reality is, we can’t all be the next Glennon Doyle, Brené Brown, or Dr. Nicole LePera.
The truth is, our ego and social media vanity metrics aside, the power of writing lies in the journey one embarks on when they stare down and defeat that blank page time and time again.
This is why there is power in writing like no one is reading:
1. What is a daily writing practice, and why does it matter?
In March 2021, after reading Dr. Nicole LePera’s book, How to do the Work, I challenged myself to commit to future-self journaling for 30 days. Future-self journaling is the daily practice of taking five to 10 minutes to write consciously and shift behavioral patterns using prompts.
Initially, I used writing prompts that challenged me to write as the ideal “future Sarah,” but all structure to my writing slowly melted away after the first week. Each day, before work, I spent 10 minutes writing whatever was on my mind without any censorship whatsoever.
By the second or third week of writing each day, my awareness levels soared and seemingly out of nowhere:
>> I felt better equipped mentally to take on any challenges throughout my day.
>> I was able to sit in meditation, which had always been a struggle in the past despite my best intentions. My mind always understood the many health benefits of meditating, but constantly getting myself to sit still and be present eluded me.
>> I was able to drop into my body and accept whatever I was feeling in the moment without any judgment or need to fix anything.
2. The beauty of writing like no one is reading.
Writing what comes to mind, without any need to censor ourselves or fret over anyone else discovering our writing, is incredibly liberating. While some people may find it beneficial to share their writing with a therapist or health practitioner, I don’t share my writing.
For me, the act of journaling, or whatever people prefer to call it, is sacred. It is one of the few moments in my day to tune in, feel what’s happening in that moment, and document my observations without any judgment.
3. To destroy or not to destroy our writing.
Many people who engage in journaling or writing daily are huge advocates for destroying their writing. Burning or shredding our writing can certainly be cathartic.
Plus, for those of us who live with others, destroying our words makes certain that no one will ever find our soul’s deepest musings.
Personally, with my day-to-day writing, I like to keep it and, at the end of each week, look for patterns by asking myself these questions:
>> What has energized me this week?
>> What has drained me this week?
>> What is in my control to change for the better?
I see a purpose in destroying my writing if I have chosen to explore something I find triggering or traumatic. I’m a fan of shredding. The knowledge that I’m going to shred my words provides me with added peace of mind to write without reservation.
As for my pesky writer’s ego, now and again, it gets its “fix.” For instance, one random weekend, I heard from a budding author I’d interacted with in the past. She was writing her first memoir. She wrote:
“It’s always scary to share such a personal story for the first time, and you were the first one! So I continued, and here we are.”
This reminded me that I don’t write for vanity metrics or to go viral.
And this message brings me back to what I know to be true: when it comes to writing, it’s the journey that changes us.