Writing a post this week for another wonderful blog site that I write for, I realized that the act of writing – of vomiting my thoughts out on to the screen or the paper or a napkin – is one of those things that helps me find the realities in my life.
I was writing about running. About how much I hate running and my conflicting desire to complete a Couch-to-5K program. I started out with the intention of writing a post discussing my willpower to finish the C25K program and how I wondered if I was doing it because it was a fad – practically everyone is trying it – or whether I really was running because it was an outlet. As the words started to stretch across the screen, though, it occurred to me that the reasons I’m running have nothing to do with willpower or fads.
As it turned out, writing down those thoughts took me on a surprising path, and suddenly I was actually blogging about regaining my lost athleticism and my truly strong body. Without the act of writing, I’m not sure I would’ve been able to sort that out or discover that honest answer within myself.
I suppose that’s why people journal. Sometimes our fingertips can tell us things our thoughts cannot. Sometimes they take control of those thoughts and fly across the paper or the keyboard, channeling our deepest realities down through fingertips, spreading face-up our motives and fears in the ink on the page. Writer is a strange occupation. It’s raw and defining, but it teaches me the most important lessons when I allow it to.
As a writing teacher, I give my students freewriting tasks frequently. They have to just sit down without too much thought and start writing. Whatever comes out, comes out. It’s an exercise in shutting off the self-correction that kills some of the best ideas. I do it myself when I go to write a story or a few pages of fiction, but I don’t do it often enough when I’m writing about my own life.
This little discovery about my reasons for running was a nice reminder to turn off those destructive voices. To write with the mantra “I will go where this takes me” rather than a well-mapped-out space of “this blog will be about.” Maybe I’ll learn a little more about what it means to be a mother in this specific life of mine, and what’s really going on in the chaotic web that is my mommy brain.