I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember.
It all started when I was a kid. When the other kids were drawing pictures, I was writing. When the other kids were outside riding their bikes all summer, I was writing. And when the other kids were hanging out together having fun, dating, and being social, I was – you guessed it – writing.
You could say that writing was therapy for me. It is what kept me alive in my darkest hours of depression. It’s what allowed to escape to a peaceful place to pick apart my pain. And it’s what helped me to heal when life sometimes let me down and left me to fend for myself.
Writing never seemed like a chore in those moments. It was a necessity, a lifeline. It was a habit as deeply ingrained as having cigarettes every day is to the smoker. It was the daily drink of inspiration that uncovered the real, creative me under all the masks I wore. And it was a safe place where I could take off all my armor, lay down my weapons, and say whatever I wanted – total, uncensored, raw honesty.
Up until high school, I never shared my writing with anyone.
Instead of talking on the phone, I began writing letters that people seemed to enjoy, and maybe even look forward to.
But then I had to write something for a school assignment – or get an F.
I sucked at writing stories, so I churned out two poems.
I got third place in the entire school.
There was no pressure in being third. So I wrote two poems again the next year.
I placed first.
That meant I had to leave my comfort zone far behind. I was required to memorize my poems, recite them in front of a panel of strangers, and hope that I survived the experience.
I was somewhat nervous, perhaps less so because my dear English teacher, Ms. McClure, took the time to coach me. It felt so good to know she believed in me. Although truth be told, she said that the only reason I came in third the year before was that she didn’t think I could recite my poems in front of an audience.
I’m thankful she changed her mind the second time around.
Because of her faith in me, I have felt more empowered to share my work.
Writing can be therapeutic for the writer. But it doesn’t validate him until someone else reads it, reacts to it, and shares her reaction with him.
If you’re wondering whether you should write, I’d say yes, you should. You don’t need to make a living at it, but if you can, great! If you want to do that, you’d better love the craft as much as you love air, goofing off, and your family.
Your best work will arise from your greatest struggles. And who knows? What helped you get through that rough patch just might keep someone else from giving up when her pain is so great she wants to die.
Are you willing to take the challenge? Are you willing to share the raw, honest self that has gone through the fire and has lived to see another day? Are you willing to show your scars, your fears, and your struggles so someone else might find a glimmer of hope?
If you do, you’ll give others the best gift ever.
You might change the world.
And you’ll become the person God created you to be.
Now get out that pen and start sharing your story.
What do you struggle with the most? Have you shared it with anyone? What happened when you did?