Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I listen to my heart

Last week, my thoughts were all over the place. I took forever to decide which partially finished article I should complete in time to meet my column deadline. Since the official deadline is today, Tuesday, I decided that maybe I should just hold on to the piece and shuffle through it over the weekend.

Guess what? Last night I sent an entirely different article to the ones I worked on all last week.

The piece about Solitude found its way to my heart and called to be released. Only another writer will understand this.

Sometimes, during one week, I’d find myself flitting back and forth among three or four different articles. After working on one for a while, my mind goes numb, I lose interest and it just seems all wrong. I move onto another, only to have the same thing happen, and so on and so on.

This troubles me until I decide to leave the writing alone and busy myself with some other activity that usually isn't writing-related. A half hour of HGTV is often sufficient to get a clear break and refresh my mind. And some weeks the confusion is severe enough to drag on to the eleventh hour.

The ideas are there, the topics are ones that I enjoy writing about. But somehow, my mind is not settled with any of the pieces I select, neither is my heart fully committed to completing any of them for the approaching deadline.

It is stressful and the pressure mounts with each unproductive day. Plus, that dreaded “internal critic” is only to happy to slam my discouraged heart with the usual shouts of, “Yeah, and you call yourself a writer,” “Look at you, what a fraud,” “Give it up,” and other similar soul-depleting, confidence-smashing talk.

I hear him loud and clear and admit that his words hurt. But I fight him. I may not be accomplishing much with the work at hand, I may be writing more like an amateur than the professional and passionate writer I know I am. But I’ll be damned if I let him inveigle me to quit.

In times past, when this happened, I considered choosing another area to explore, another niche perhaps, but my heart won’t let me. I must engage in the kind of writing that jingle in my heart when I sit down to write. My heart must be in it, my words must ring true to who I am and what I'm passionate about. .

Sure the words may struggle to find their way on the page or screen, as the case may be. But as long as I stay the course, ignore my inner demon, and listen instead to my heart, I know the words will come. The right words will find their way to the page, and to the person who needs to read them.

That's not to say that I don't stumble at the initial lack of focus and steady distractions. Eventually, I come to my senses and let go of the pressure. I trust God to direct me, I listen to my heart. This process may take a while to produce fruit, but it has never failed me yet.

Following are some of the quotes that have inspired me to trust my heart, honor my passion and write in no other voice but my own: -

"Don’t write what you know—what you know may bore you, and thus bore your readers. Write about what interests you—and interests you deeply—and your readers will catch fire at your words."

~ Valerie Sherwood

"Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don't try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It's the one and only thing you have to offer."

~ Barbara Kingsolver

"Writing from the heart requires vision, and vision is beyond skill. Vision writers write what they want to write. This means they write about things that have moved them deeply. Such writing is not something that you can learn. For vision is a gift. But if you open your heart wide, the gift will be great."

~ Cyn-Young Ahn

"There's one thing your writing must have to be any good at all. It must have you. Your soul, your self, your heart, your guts, your voice -- you must be on that page. In the end, you can't make the magic happen for your reader. You can only allow the miracle of 'being one with' to take place. So dare to be yourself. Dare to reveal yourself. Be honest, be open, be true...If you are, everything else will fall into place."

~ Elizabeth Ayres


Jeanne Dininni said...


Thanks for sharing your writing trials and triumphs with us! You are right that only another writer can relate--yet how we can relate!

We all face these same struggles at one time or another--far more often than we'd like, if we're honest. Yet, if we let them, our struggles can teach us to look within ourselves for the strength, the power, the inspiration, and the determination to move forward in spite of them, to discover the things we need to say and say them. All the other things can wait.

Thanks so much for the excellent quotes. They not only add a lovely touch to your post, but they definitely strike a chord!


Cheryl Wright said...


I'm a quotation junkie. I'm so pathetic that I file them in my favorite categories (life/living, writing, solitude)for easy retrieval.
The life category is very broad so I'm in the process of dividing it.

Weird huh?


Jeanne Dininni said...

Not at all! I think it's great, and I love quotations myself. I've run quite a number of posts at Writer's Notes that are entirely (or almost entirely) made up of quotations. I've posted quotations on writing by writers and by writing critics numerous times, and I've also posted some fascinating Albert Einstein quotes a few times.

I think it's pretty common for writers to be quotation junkies. Somehow, those of us who have a real appreciation for the written word seem so much more able to appreciate them than the average person. Perhaps it's because their poignancy, wisdom, wit, and artful turn of phrase remind us of that which we, as writers, aspire to in our own writing.

So, I wouldn't worry about it! I'd say it's a pretty normal trait for a writer! :)

Keep those quotes coming!

Cheryl Wright said...

I've added the quotations in your posts to my file. As the young 'uns might say, "The ones by Albert Einstein totally rock!"


Jeanne Dininni said...

Agreed! Glad you found them a useful addition to your collection!


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