Things I Know for Sure About Writing

For a couple of years now, I have been involved with a poetry group at Brookwood Florida, a home for adolescent girls who have been removed from their domestic situations because of abuse. Under the direction of the wonderful Jeanne Chase, some of the girls gather weekly to write. And the result is some of the most courageous poetry I have seen. Every year, Jeanne compiles the poetry into a book. And this year, we threw the girls a real author book release party at one of my favorite indies, Inkwood Books in Tampa.

I prepared a few words about writing, and what it has meant to me, and what I think it can mean for them if they keep at it. Though I wrote this for young women who are using poetry as a catharsis, as a way to make sense of their feelings, and as a step toward self-empowerment, it seems to me that some of this might be true for every writer. So, I thought I’d share some things that have certainly been true for me:

  1. All you need to do to define yourself as a writer, is write. By this I don’t mean write a grocery list, or even a diary, or letters to your friend. What I mean is that you get quiet, dig deep and put down on the page the contents of your heart and soul to tell your truth. This might emerge as poetry, or fiction, or playwriting. It could take any number of forms. But if you do it; you’re a writer.
  2. The act of writing is a reward in and of itself. You are enriched just by doing it.
  3. The more you write, the better you will get.
  4. The more you write, the better you will know yourself.
  5. The more you write, the better you know yourself, the easier it gets to hear your own voice above the chatter of other voices.
  6. If you can get quiet, dig deep, speak your truth and honor your own voice, you can begin to write yourself and your own future.
  7. No one can write exactly like you. No one has ever walked in precisely your shoes. And no one can tell the story you have to tell.
  8. We write our own stories. We can’t always control what happens to us in this life. We can’t choose where we come from, or how people have treated us. But we can choose how we move forward from difficult circumstances. Only you can write the story of you.