Write your heart out

So over the past two days, as I wrote blog posts that comparatively few people (yet) will read, I discovered that after writing them, I felt happy. Now there’s the happiness of “just having written,” which DailyKos attributed to Robert Hass: “It’s hell writing, but it’s hell not writing. The only tolerable state is just having written.”

The happiness I’ve felt writing this week turns out to be more than “just having written.” It is also more than just the satisfaction of  forming ideas and communicating them. That pleasure is certainly a chief reward of writing, but this happiness, I found, went deeper. It was a feeling not just that I had said something, but that I had said something that was mine to say. It was a feeling of being aligned with my purpose.

Now I don’t know exactly what my purpose is. I have hints of it; you no doubt have hints (or more) of yours. I learn more about my purpose whenever I do something that results in that sense of deep pleasure. Those are the clues that tell me what direction to go to find happiness.

Especially in tough economic times, it’s tempting to write only what the market will bear. Yes, we writers have to pay the bills, and yes, the writing landscape is shifting enormously before our eyes. But we do ourselves and our readers a disservice if we don’t write what’s on our minds. We cheat ourselves and others if we don’t take some time from our money-earning pursuits to also write from our hearts, whether or not it will at this moment pay the bills. Sometimes we get lucky, like a friend of mine who’s cruising in Antarctica at the moment with three magazine-writing assignments. Paying the bills can go along with writing our hearts out.

But even when it doesn’t, let’s be true to our own sense of purpose. Whether or not thousands of people are reading your blog, whether or not you have an agent for your novel, whether or not your contract supports it, write what you mean. Write what is yours to write. Write your heart out.

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8 Responses to Write your heart out

  1. Priscilla,

    You said it perfectly. Even if no one reads our blogs, we have to stay true to ourselves. I do believe there is a yearning for the truth, in whatever form it takes.

    Keep up with your good work.

    Kathy Kaiser

  2. Megan says:March 13, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    I love your outlook about not always needing an audience for your work. When I worry about how much traffic I will get or how people will feel about my posts or articles, I enjoy writing less. Thanks for the reminder to stay true to ourselves!

  3. You got it, sister! Write what’s in your heart, stay true to your heart, listen… to your heart. Thanks for the reminder that it IS worthwhile what I’m doing, and the rest will fall into place.

  4. Jack Martin says:March 16, 2009 at 7:30 pm

    Priscilla Stuckey: I linked here from Moyers blog, and believe you me if you write there and link home, people are reading and considering your words. I have web sites for other purposes but prefer Moyers’. As a thoughtful intellectual you most likely realize we (Western?) philosophers never fully comprehend what we think until it is written down, and likely edited to revision. If one writes what one is paid to write rather than what one knows and/or feels is right or correct this produces confusion and disharmony in ourselves.

    If you wish to know more about the resilient configuration of indigenous (primitive? not) thinking read “The Invention of Culture”, a book by anthropologist/philosopher Roy Wagner, who taught at the Univ. of Va. in Charlottesville. I never met him but we had good telephone conversations. Well, if you do find this book and are able to “get” it, contact me at Figgersinstitute@yahoo.com to follow up. I’ve been working on this phenomenon for several decades.

  5. I have no idea how, in the interlocking matrix of blogs, I arrived here–but I love your blog. Just thought I’d tell you that… and add to the mystery of why we write and how our readers find us.

  6. gp says:March 20, 2009 at 8:16 am

    “I learn more about my purpose whenever I do something that results in that sense of deep pleasure. Those are the clues that tell me what direction to go to find happiness.”

    I never really realized that finding the way to happiness could be so easy. This is indeed something to ponder over for long!!

    -GP

  7. Priscilla Stuckey, PhD says:March 20, 2009 at 11:22 am

    Hi, GP, though the way may be easy, finding the way may be the hardest thing we ever do! I count four years of chronic illness in my early thirties as one of the hard ways I learned.

  8. Gail Storey says:June 7, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    I deeply appreciate your inspiring take on writing our hearts out, from the heart. So true, and the comments to your post are also wonderfully illuminating.