I am sitting in the lush and comfortable living room of a heritage home Bed & Breakfast as I write this. I am not on vacation, but rather resting with my feet up after preparing a gourmet breakfast for the guests who are staying here. Yes, I work here off and on as needed, and in this moment of respite I am contemplating the words, ‘writing your guts out’ as the title for this post.
Adversity and The Ways We Often Numb Out
So often in life we can find ourselves with our backs pressed up against a wall. Anything from illness, financial burdens, relationship issues, or loss of a loved one can leave us feeling derailed and without a compass or a map.
How many times have you heard yourself saying, “I just want to feel some relief.”
Sadly, many of us would rather numb our pain with anything external including the likes of alcohol, drugs, sex, food, gambling, social media, or spending.
A Natural Way To Soothe Emotional Pain
But what if there was another way to deal with this suffering? One a lot less damaging to our sense of well-being and a lot more natural.
Over my lifetime, writing my guts out became a way of dealing with adversity and trying to make sense of the often staggering emotional pain that being a mere mortal can entail. There is something entirely therapeutic about holding a pen in hand and letting yourself ‘bleed onto the page’ as author Derrick Jensen, so profoundly quoted.
It’s All In The Hands
Our hands are connected to our hearts via an energy meridian within the body. This is why whenever we are doing something creative with our hands like writing, pottery, knitting, carpentry, cooking, gardening, quilting, etc., we feel so much better; so emptied, so alive.
Specific to writing, we are also using our inner voice to speak the words we so desperately need to say. This inner purge requires no listener except the humble page in front of us. The very action of moving our hand across the page is something I’ve always equated with the healing balm of love writing across the heart.
Leaving Messages Across Our Heart
This kind of written purge can often leave a swath of relief and peace within the hidden and mysterious chambers of an organ that can seemingly expand and contract energetically according to our most deeply felt emotions. Many times it can feel like messages are being written across our heart that remind us that we are our own healer, and that deep comfort and succor can come from emptying our hearts of rage, bitterness, grief, fear, or resentments.
A Powerful Daily Writing Practice
The practice is simple. Every morning before beginning anything, you have to write out, by hand, three 8 x 11 pages of free form writing. There are no rules about what to write. You can even write the same word over and over again if you feel stuck. The practice is that you write and keep moving the energy flowing across the page until all three pages are filled up. The practice is to serve as a daily dumping ground, a sacred space to express anything from joy to fear, a clearing of the slate so to speak. I kept this up for years and I can tell you, if you want to write, or even if you’re already are a writer, that this is a powerful daily tool to open up the veins of gold that lead to the mother lode of genius writing. I invite you to begin using this practice as the foundation of your writing life.
Writing Your Guts Out Will Empty You To Fill You
One of my favorite quotes by the late martial arts expert and actor, Bruce Lee, speaks so well about the meaning and power of emptying ourselves in order to be filled.
“Emptiness is the starting point. In order to taste my cup of water, you must first empty your cup. My friend, drop all your preconceived notions and fixed ideas, and be neutral. Do you know why this cup is useful? Because it is empty.”
So many times when we approach the page to begin writing, especially if we are a new ‘wanna be’ writer, or even if we are seasoned, there can be many moments (or even hours, and sometimes days) of staring at the blank page and feeling a sort of combo ‘dead dance’ between numbing panic and total lethargy.
Every Writer Needs To Empty The Trash
In my experience, this happens when we haven’t done the regular practice of emptying the trash by writing our guts out. When we are weighted down with the heaviness of life, it can make us feel as though we are unheard, unsure, or living without a purpose. Along with this can come the feeling of not being ‘good enough, or, if you’ve always been afraid to have your authentic voice heard, this stagnation can further push any buttons that may have been telling you that you have strayed far from being authentic and natural by being either too loud, too meek, or too much.
And Writing Will Lead you Home
If we want to write and we want to write well, it behooves us to take care of the very foundation of good writing – the self – by doing a daily detox in the form of daily writing. This I consider a great act of self-love for any writer. When we violate or neglect our true selves it can soon lead to feelings of worthlessness and undeserving, and before we know it the flow of creative juices has dried up. This in turn can often stop us from acting on our own behalf. Saying ‘yes’ to our inner artist often involves saying ‘no’ to other people in our lives, and ‘no’ to some of the many roles we play as well. Making our creative self a priority in our lives is essential for any artist. It’s a stand we must make for ourselves and our creative work which eventually leads us home.
“Whatever creativity is, it is in part a solution to a problem.” -Brian Aldiss
If you have any questions whatsoever or need a hand with anything, feel free to contact me. You can also leave me a comment in the comment section below.
Wishing you much love & happy writing,