Thursday, February 13, 2014

Write it Real // A Post by Olivia

Olivia is an almost-seventeen-year old Canadian girl who loves tea and hugs and freshly fallen snow. She's talkative, has a flair for the dramatic, and thinks words are the answer to everything. People are her favourite, and when she grows up (if that ever actually happens; she has her doubts) she'd like to be a sign language interpreter.
She keeps a blog down at the cwtch, and she'd be just tickled pink if you'd pop by and say hello.

Words have always been my way out.

For as long as I can remember, I've been running to my bedroom, reaching for my journal in its not-so-secret hiding place beneath my bed, and scribbling my heart onto the page right there on the floor, because I couldn't stand under the weight of things unsaid. I couldn't possibly get to my feet and settle at my desk, or even at my bed, because words were piling up in my throat and against my fingers, pounding inside my temples and my heart and behind my eyes, begging to be set free.

I didn't - I don't - always go to my journals, though. Sometimes it's poetry that tugs at me, or a story idea that begs to be written, and then I work through whatever's bugging me that way, unkinking character flaws as I struggle to figure out what's bothering me IRL.

I've learned a few things this way - when my fingers ached from holding the pencil too tightly, even though I still had pages left to fill, when my eyes were pounding from staring at the computer screen, when my heart hurt because I didn't understand what I was trying to tell myself, not even when the words were staring me in the face.

i) Once you write something, it's real, and

ii) You HAVE to be honest. With your readers, sure, but mostly with yourself.

These are two things you have to understand if you're going to get into writing, no matter what kind of wordplay it is. Whether it's poetry or novels or just a private journal, words have power, and once you put them on the page, there's no going back. You can put black lines through a sentence or erase it until there's a hole in the page, but once you write something down, it's real. That's why, sometimes, when my problem was just a little bit too big, too scary, too utterly intimidating, I wouldn't sprint to my bedroom, or yank my laptop from my desk. I'd pace and think and chew on my lip and maybe pray, but I wouldn't talk about it, and I wouldn't write.
Because I figured out early that to put my problem down on paper was to admit to myself that it was real, that it was something that I had to face, that it had to be fixed, somehow. And a lot of times, it was easier to simply ignore whatever the issue was, hope that it would fix itself, rather than record it forever, when I knew that re-reading it would open the wound again and again.
This applies when you're writing fiction, too. Every word you write, every scene or line of poetry that you take down becomes a part of your project, even if you hit delete right after typing it out. The unsaid words are just as real, just as much a part of your finished work as the visible ones, even if you're the only one who knows they exist.

The second "rule," or "lesson," or "tip," or whatever you want to call it, is...harder. At least for me. Because I can always force myself to write, or not write, or whatever, but sitting down and being completely honest....yi-ikes. See, the thing is, you can write about something that doesn't matter too much to you personally, that isn't right next to your heart, that won't hurt you or rub you the wrong way if people don't understand. But if your subject doesn't matter to you, if you're distanced from it, your readers will be, too.
So, go for it! Write about that issue or situation or feeling that's taking over your life right now. It will be TERRIFYING. It'll scare the pants off you, but that's a good thing, I promise. It means you means your readers will care, too. If you're honest, it will show. Your writing will be real; it will strike a chord with everyone who's ever felt the way you do, and even with those who haven't.

Writing is not easy. It's not a spectator sport, it's not one of those "quick fixes." Writing is hard, and it's brutally honest,  and sometimes it hurts...but it also has incredible power to heal, to encourage both yourself and others, to put out a reassuring few words that say:
"Hey. You're not alone."

Whether writing is something you're interested in, already passionate about, or totally not into, I want to encourage you to pick up your pencil today. Run out to the dollar store and buy yourself a notebook, or just sit down at the computer and open a Word document. Write for a bit, be honest and real and see where it takes you. Don't worry about being good yet, just play around with it for a bit.

I promise you won't regret it.

Olivia, thank you so much for posting! This post is very inspiring to me. 
To my lovely followers, do make sure you check out Olivia's blog, The Cwtch. It's one of my very favorite blogs to read.
- Hannah


  1. " I couldn't possibly get to my feet and settle at my desk, or even at my bed, because words were piling up in my throat and against my fingers, pounding inside my temples and my heart and behind my eyes, begging to be set free." - oh my gosh yes, this feeling! So nailed that description! This was an awesome post! Writing is so honest and it does heal so much. Very well said


  2. Really good reminder of what the people want! Nice descriptions too :)

    Anna x