How to write what you know when it hurts too much to talk about in public

Do you keep a journal?

The Gifts of the Regular Writing Practice for the Person & Professional That You Are

A regular writing practice is good medicine. Writing keeps you going through times of frustration and confusion. When you fall into the rhythm of your own words you can keep fear and loneliness at bay… at least for a little while.

As you make and keep writing dates with yourself, you become stronger. You get to know what you really think and how you really feel.

And, if you’re a lifelong diarist, if you ever need to do research on something like what true love’s first kiss feels like, you have exclusive access to a primary resource. (Or at least I do, but that’s another story!)

If you’re a professional in the transformation business who wants to change some corner of the universe with your ideas, a writing practice helps you become the person who not only thinks brilliant thoughts, but who also changes lives with them.

Your Journal Has Some Secret Gifts to Share with You

As someone who has carried around a journal since shortly after I learned to use a pen, I figured I knew every trick in the blank book of personal writing, but then I met Monica Kenton of the Spiritual Innovation Lab and she revealed a secret that every journal keeper must know:

Use your own journal as a book of answers. When you’re stuck and seeking guidance, ask the greatest authority on your life: yourself. Think about what you need to know and then open your journal to a random page.

Monica shared that idea last month in a workshop at Camp GLP (the most wonderfullest gathering for creatives and entrepreneurs EVER!). I’d forgotten about this magic trick until now. But, as I sit on my front porch, trying to force out a blog post in a few stolen moments while I try to tear myself away from the latest headlines, I realize that I just might have access to exactly what I need to write for you today.

We all break that “write what you know” rule sometimes, and then...

Seeking a taste of my own wisdom, I flip to a random page of an old journal.

Only July 17, 2016 I was up at 5 AM and feeling simultaneously filled up and emptied out by motherhood. Mothers of young children are creatures of the dawn, so I’ve seen the day from this angle countless times, but this wasn’t always the case.

That morning, I scrawled:

In high school, I wrote a story about a world trapped in the eerie half-light of dawn. It was fantasy - and not only because it featured druids and all sorts of enchantment. In truth, I wasn’t all that sure what dawn looked like. Sure, I got up in the dark to catch the bus, but I was too busy putting together my mid-90s flannel ensembles to look out the window.

At sixteen, I was breaking that rule that begs to be broken: write what you know.

Who can blame me? When you’re just desperate for something to happen to you, it seems like all you know are curfews and boys who just don’t get it. It’s almost impossible to write stories when you’re inside them - especially when you think the story you’re living is too limited. As a result, I turned to the completely made up.

Here’s the thing: I think it’s possible to write what you know even if your story is full of unicorns and dragons (even if you haven’t seen one - yet.).

If that story the sixteen year-old me was actually about yearning to be kissed by "the one" and a teenager’s longing for freedom, the silver horned creatures and the weird atmospheric conditions would have been completely believable and wonderful.

Thing is, I wasn’t writing a truthful story because I wasn’t willing to live the part of it that was completely accessible every damn morning.

You wander into “fraud” territory when you write about a daily planetary event and don’t actually bother to go looking at it.

You’re out of step with authenticity when you ignore that you and your life have a part to play in the stories you tell.

Apply the “write what you know” advice in a way that supports your life and writing process

But we're not kids anymore.

So much has happened to get you to where you are - so many terrible mistakes and private joys and worrisome truths. There’s an inherent challenge embedded in “write what you know” when what you know is too private or stressful or in-process to share in public.

And, "write from the heart" is a downright punishing statement if you’re a healer or a clinician who helps people solve problems and find peace and happiness when your own daily life is full of conflict and confusion and frustration.

But what DO you write about when life is hellish and your brand is meant to offer clients hope and solace?

The sunrise.

I’m taking this 2016 journal entry literally. If you can’t write about what’s happening in daily life, you must be able to write about what it means to stand in the stillness of dawn and tune into something bigger than your dramas.

Here’s your writing prompt:

Writing Prompt_.png

Watch the sunrise.  Why would your perfect reader/ ideal client/ the individual who needs the change you seek to be in the world benefit from experiencing the stillness of dawn?

Give yourself permission to see that sunrise through the shadows that cloud your vision, through the hopes that blur your sight, through your biases that create your perspective

Even if every writer in this community wrote their next blog post about a sunrise, we’d all write something unique and show up as OURSELVES in the page. We’d offer some specific medicine that would help our own communities of clients see themselves more clearly and heal their lives.

You're invited to show up for the display nature puts on for free every day and turn that into your own story

I invite you to get up early tomorrow. Make a cup of something hot and strong. Get yourself to a window or snuggle into your coziest robe and face east. Then, go write. Please share the link in the comments or tag me in social media so I can see this particular sunset through your eyes and the eyes of the people you're writing for.

Want more writing prompts like this one? Join the next free community writing practice call.