I was sitting over a big bowl of phở gà in the Chinatown neighborhood of Boston last Saturday with my girlfriend Laura and two of her wonderful friends from out of town when one of them asked, “What kind of writing do you do?”
Maybe it was the spices fizzing in my nose, or the zero-degree windchill outside, or the fact that I’ve been pitching you on my new writing course Unavoidable Writing for a couple weeks. But instead of responding with a polite word or two about genre or style as I usually do, I heard myself suddenly blurt out,
“I teach writing as a vessel of self-knowledge.”
Uh oh, I quietly wondered, Did I just open a big woo-woo can of worms?
Even though just about all you do, dear reader, is hear me blab about self-expression and knowing yourself on my blog and in my newsletter, I’m sure you understand that downloading my entire life philosophy isn’t my foremost intention when I’m out to lunch with people I’m just meeting over a weekend.
After all, whenever someone asks me about my writing, I’m usually assuming that he or she is expecting a simple, concise answer like “fiction” or “non-fiction.”
It’s no different than asking somebody What do you do? upon meeting them.
You probably aren’t expecting a 3-hour soliloquy in response, even if that lengthy answer might do better to fill in the picture of the human whom you’re meeting. All you’re asking for is an entry-point of familiarity and relatability to this person. Not a life philosophy.
And yet, in that moment, I thought differently.
Because over the last few months of 2017, I’ve decided that I want to change the whole conversation that we have around writing, creativity and self-expression.
Even though we typically experience artistry through the result of it having been done — as in, the outcome, the product, the end result, whether a painting or a song or a book — I believe that the fundamental value of art is in the journey of endeavoring into the making of it.
— The value of self-expression is not alone found in number of readers, or in how much money you can make from writing, or whether or not literary circles will consider you either prize-worthy or reductionist.
— The beauty of creative expression is as nuanced and subtle as it is wide and diverse: value abounds in everything from the decision to seek it out at all to the impossible curiosity around why we were called to express it in the first place.
— Some of the power of expressing yourself is felt when you recognize that the words you scrawl on the page are as much chosen as those you hear in your own head; that, like on paper, you can edit, revise, and rewrite the stories and narratives within your psyche that you tell yourself and others, every day.
The beauty and the power and the value of expressing yourself is as much the lead-in to doing it, as it is the friction and struggle of actually doing it, as it is in the suddenly-steady flow of doing it (as if you’re not the one who’s doing the speaking at all), as is what emerges from having done it.
Writing, of all forms of self-expression, is an ever-deepening circle into the soul of who you are.
Because the medium consists of the very words of the stories, sentiments, emotions and experiences you’re living as you live them.
…that’s the kind of writing I do.
Less about the book, less about a blog, less about creating a body of work across your lifetime.
That outcome-based stuff is what you’ll hear most folks typically pitch you on: forget the experience of the journey of writing, and instead, obsess over results, end-products, your readership, Twitter followers, status, or the money you can make. All of which are anxiety-inducing, have-not focuses that erode the beauty, experience and yoga of self-expression.
But, not me.
Not over this bowl of phở gà.
As in life, it’s the journey of creative self-expression that contains, entails, and offers the greatest reward:
To bring you back to your whole and true Self.
It’s from that place — of wholeness and completeness, of self-love and inner-outer connection — that everything else flows.
If you’d like to learn more about this philosophy — and better yet, to experience it for yourself — I ask you to join me inside Unavoidable Writing, my new writing course, which imparts all the learned wisdom and experiences of the last 5 years of my life and working with 300 writers from more than a dozen countries.
You’ll find an incredibly empowering creative philosophy (and life philosophy!) inside, complemented by conscientious exercises and prompts, and an actionable curriculum to help you personally and precisely overcome whatever is holding you back.
It’s only available at this current wicked beta discount of $179 for a few more hours.
I hope to see you inside :)
Until next time, write on, dear friend!