I would never attempt to call myself the shining example of what a writer is supposed to be. I hardly even call myself a write. But I do try to write daily. I missed yesterday because I ended up going to a poetry slam almost straight from work and by time I got home, I was tired and ready for bed.
Poetry readings, and open mics, and slams are one of my favorite things to do. I feel like it is really rare to get so many people in a room sharing their raw emotions. I love sharing my writing with the world, but it’s definitely a love/hate relationship. I love it, because I put my heart in it. I hate it because it literally terrifies me to get up in front of people and read or recite my stuff. To be fair, it just simply terrifies me to get up in front of a group of people and say anything. But I also feel like it is a necessary evil.
I love when I am not the one on stage and I can see the poet who is on stage reading their work while their hands shake. To me, it doesn’t get more human than that. So whenever I see a poet who is scared to get up, I always try to encourage them, whether I know them or not.
So, I thought maybe it was time to bring my public service announcement to the world for all writers to read.
You don’t have to be a poet to hear what I’m going to say. Any kind of writing will do, whether it is fiction, non-fiction, song writing, poetry, whatever.
Just write. Write your truth the way you see it. And do it with reckless abandon. Don’t write with the thought in the back of your head that you may read it in front of a group of people one day who will be holding up dry erase boards to judge you. Just write. Write what you know. Write about what hurt you. Write about that one time you thought you’d never be that happy again. Write about that one time you thought you’d never breathe again. Write about that time your heart was broken. Write about that time you broke a heart. Write about shaving your head. Write about shaving your legs. Write about shaving your girlfriend’s legs. Just write.
Get it all off your chest.
And then, when the time is right, take a deep breath and share it.
It doesn’t matter if you go to a reading or an open mic or a workshop. It doesn’t matter if there are 2 people attending or 200. Take your words and share them. I have found over and over again that some of the most painful things I’ve written have become someone else’s reason to get back up.
I think poetry and writing in general is a lot like church. I’m not a very religious person, but sometimes, I do feel drawn to go to a “worship” service of some kind. The denomination doesn’t really matter. I will go to any church if the mood strikes me. And when the mood does strike me, I usually feel like God is speaking directly to me through the sermon. Poetry does the same thing. I am quick to tell other poets who are too shy or too scared to share their works, that someone needs to hear exactly what they are saying. And it is so true. With sermons or with poetry, we aren’t all that special. There are billions of us on the planet. It would be majorly egotistical to think that we are the only human in the world suffering (insert life pains here).
We aren’t. Even in a room full of poets, there is a very good chance that someone in that room needs to hear what you have to say. They need your words to heal themselves. They need the strength it took you to get up in front of everyone and share. They need what you are bringing to the table to get to the next phase in their journey.
When you think of it like that, it’s almost like you have a responsibility to share your words.
And, to be clear, it doesn’t matter if you consider yourself a “writer” or not. Just write. Write down what you are feeling. Write down anything. Write down everything. If it is important to you, it is probably important to someone else. So write your Ode to a Cat or your Go Fuck Yourself poem to your ex. And then share it.
Share it online. Share it live at a reading. Share it in book form. Share it in song. Share it here in a comment. It doesn’t matter what medium you want to use. Just use something and share what you’ve written, because, I’ll say it again, someone needs to hear exactly what you are saying.