Blogging, Favorite Things, Life

Words Matter

Recently a blogger friend talked about how many drafts we have that never published and it caused me to consider mine.

I had 13.

I composed this in December 2019, but it got lost in the pandemic flurry of events and I never ended up publishing it. 


Last month I taught a creative writing class for a group of homeschoolers. In planning for the class, I grew anxious about my grammar and punctuation skills even though that isn’t all creative writing is about. But because I was sharing my love of writing with intelligent teenagers, I became nervous.

Because teenagers can be critical.

Also, this was the first time some of them had experienced a creative writing class.

So, no pressure.

 

 

“Your stories are important,” I told the class.

No matter if you record them in a Times New Roman font or a Comic Sans font.

Kidding, for the LOVE OF GOD, no Comic Sans font.

In order to tell your stories, you will need to document them somehow. Whether that is writing them down or recording them from voice to write them down at a later time.

Don’t take notice of individuals who tell you you need a degree to be a writer.

Don’t take notice of individuals who tell you that your story isn’t interesting enough to be told.

 

 

A great way to get the creative writing juices flowing is by a process I call “free-flow writing”.

Go to the notes section of your phone, press the microphone button on your keyboard and just speak everything you are feeling to your phone. Later, go through and organize your thoughts to make sense of it all.

This is how I begin most of my blog posts.

In fact, this is how I “wrote” the beginning of my screenplay.

While sitting in the carpool line at my oldest daughter’s high school as I was waiting to pick her up from a soccer game.

 

 

Perhaps this isn’t writing at all, but reciting.

But is typing writing? Is Grammarly editing? Is a blog a website?

“Thinking outside the box will serve you well as a writer,” I told the class.

“Don’t write what you think someone wishes to read, write what you feel. In fact, write what you are thinking right this minute. Don’t worry about grammar and punctuation. Just get out your thoughts. We will worry about editing later.”

I told them when they can’t think of what to write, remember this:

Write your pain. Write your happiness. Write your sadness. Write your hatred. Write your kindness.

JUST WRITE SOMETHING.

So many talented writers are lost because of the formality, the procedure, the structure of it all.

I know this because I was one of those writers. Writing all the time when I was little. Lying on my canopy bed, making up nonsensical stories, talking about being a famous writer when I grew up.

Then school told me I needed to diagram sentences and learn predicates and don’t forget adverbs…

and

and

and

and.

My brain grew disoriented in the mix. I felt overwhelmed. The writing wasn’t fun anymore.

I stopped writing for many years.

Until I found a Blogger account in 2010…


 

 

 

I was at a coffee shop with a friend, sitting in a soft chair in the sunshine on a February day.

I won first place at a John Hughes movie trivia night at a local bar with my husband, and I felt like I won an Academy Award.

I was in the car with my daughters and we were singing loudly to the radio with the windows open. It smelled like summer outside and I felt like I was 18 again.

I was in the kitchen with my mom, helping her make guacamole and drinking one of her yummy alcohol concoctions. I felt happy and giggly. 

Those are just fragments, but each one of those could create fun blog posts if I elaborated.

The students liked this prompt because who doesn’t love writing about when you feel good about yourself?

Use the prompt for yourself when you can’t think of what to write.

 

 

When I am writing, I always feel like time stands still. Then three hours later, I feel like I was napping and just woke up.

Where did the time go?? 

I love that feeling, don’t you? That sense of doing something you’re passionate about? If you get lost in doing something like that? DO MORE OF IT. That there is the good stuff and getting lost in it is a sign that you should do more of it.

And if you get lost in it, never apologize for that lost time.


 

The beauty of writing is that it’s one of the most affordable forms of self-care I can think of.

Pen, pencil, crayon, marker, keyboard, mouse.

Paper, used receipts, construction paper, coloring book, phone notes, computer, tablet.

You don’t need to subscribe to Microsoft Word or Scrivener or even have a laptop.

You definitely don’t need to have a blog or a website or a literary agent.

If you want to write, don’t let any of that stop you. Too bad it took me so many years to realize that. Predicates and diagramming be damned.

A writer is who you will be if it is meant to be.


 

 

I am so grateful to have befriended so many amazing friends through blogging. I love reading every one of their blogs because of the different perspectives they offer me, the lives that differ from my own. After reading week to week, I am changing. Growing. From their words. From your comments. You all have added to my life and to my writing.

I AM part of everything I have read.

And so are all of you.

 

 

One student came to me afterward and asked, “what was the name of the song?“.

During class, I told them about a bad day I’d once had. I was running late on my way to a neurologist’s appointment while having a migraine and I had my period (I didn’t tell them about the period, but this gives you all the background you need). But this song from my teenage years comes on the radio, and I just got so overwhelmed with emotions while sitting at the longest red light known to man. I began sobbing! To the opening sounds of a song.

But not tears of sadness, rather, tears of happiness.

The song transported me to the age of fourteen when I was much more carefree than I was on that day. It transported me to a high school classroom and to innocence and a place far from neurology co-pays and perimenopause and adulthood.

As the song played, I sang along at the top of my lungs so loudly and boisterously. I almost didn’t notice the surrounding cars at the traffic light noticing me.

Scream singing and crying in my car at a stoplight.

Our eyes met, and they were awkwardly smiling at me. I laughed, wiped my nose and eyes, and we kind of waved at each other. Thankfully, the light turned green, and we parted ways.

I laughed so hard and thought this would make a great story, but I kept singing and happy crying until the song was over. I pulled my car into a parking lot so that I could capture the experience down in the notes section of my phone. It was so captivating; I never wanted to forget that memory.

Then I realized that my bad day wasn’t so bad after all. In fact, it was so much better.

As I related this story to the girls in the room, they were smiling at me, and even though none of them knew of what I was relating; they couldn’t possibly relate to co-pays and adulthood and neurology visits, they all nodded. Something familiar rang true to them.

The student who came up to me afterward was captivated enough to ask what song played on the radio because of how I shared my story. And she wanted to know more.

Words can do that, you know.

 

34 thoughts on “Words Matter”

  1. Yes, this is awesome advice! I wish more writing teachers taught like this instead of the write, edit, grammar, grammar way that turns so many away from this important creative outlet.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I do love to escape everything and write . . . how I wish I could just stay locked in writing mode. Ah, but that dang dinner and driving kids and laundry. Even when I am mad about something or someone, I feel so much better after venting on paper. I might never send what I write or share it, but it is healing.

    A few published authors that I met at an event a year and a half ago gave me advice. They told me to get up early and write. That doesn’t work best for me though. I like to start my day with a dripping sweat workout and later do my writing after the house is quiet when everyone goes to bed. I think you have to do what works for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Some of my best writing will never be read by anyone but me. ❤️

      I think whatever works best for you is what works best. When the kids were small, I would get up early and write. Now, I’m able to squeeze it in more often. But my best writing comes late at night now, and I don’t know why that is. 🤫

      Like

  3. I have loved to write since I was a little girl. I started writing poetry and writing in a journal when I was 12. My favorite classes were always anything to do with writing and grammar. I even loved spelling tests. (Nerd!) I bet the teenagers loved your writing class. You have a lot of good advice, but made it fun.

    xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really hope they did. I never got to teach another one because of the pandemic.

      Another thing that I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older: reading makes you a better writer. I know you know this! I’ve learned so much even since beginning this soul homework last fall. I’ve never read more books than this past year and I swear that has helped me become a better writer.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Well, you know I love every word of this post. I became a secondary English teacher because I wanted to give the gift of writing to every teenager who came into my classroom. I wanted it (and reading) to be to them what it had been to me: a lifesaver. I was dismayed to see what had happened to so many of them by the time I met them. So many had been burned so bad that they didn’t believe me and wanted nothing to do with the Kool-Aid I was selling. Even though I had a lot of school success with writing, it wasn’t until college that I met the teachers who would help release me from all the shoulds I’d internalized. (“Stop shoulding on yourself” is one of the best pieces of advice ever.) I’m so glad you were able to find your way back to the writer you were born to be.

    I don’t know if you’re familiar with Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones, but if not I think you’d really like it.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Ditto what Rita said about Goldberg’s book. It was one that got me going about writing when I wasn’t feeling confident. I’m glad you found your voice and have been able to put it to good use here on this blog.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I love Writing Down the Bones. One of my favorite writing books. The other two are Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott and Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. I don’t even like SK books, but his writing book was one of the best I’ve ever read.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I second Melanie on the Stephen King book! A more traditional book (but one that I really found useful) is Zinsser’s On Writing Well. I haven’t looked at it in years, but Susan Wooldrige’s Poemcrazy is another one you might like. And finally, the one that might be best for you and your soul work: The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I am in LOVE with all of these suggestions! I’ve added them all to my library list. The Artist’s Way was on a previous library list (I think my friend Deb mentioned it before?) but that list was accidentally deleted and now I will hold it at the library today so I won’t lose that one this time! Thank you so much for these suggestions, Rita! 🙂

        Like

  5. Kari you are magical. I love this whole post from beginning to end. Your wise advice for those kids. The quotes. Singing loudly in the car and happy crying to songs (*same*). Yes to writing flow warping time & space. Yes to your whole marvelous post!

    And I lost my cool when I read that you read other people’s blogs to get new perspectives and see lives different than your own. Yes!!! Me too! I didn’t know anyone else read for that (squeee!). I love that you do this too! ❤

    Also telling kids to not stress out about the “shoulds” and “don’ts” of writing. To not let rules limit you before you’ve even begun. Just try. Like with riding horses over jumps — throw your heart over the fence and the horse will follow. Just try.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. YES to the horse quote. Just. Try. For many years, my fear would tell me that I could never be a writer. There are days when I think of what my teenage self would think about this blog. What my 14-year-old self would think about this. She would never imagine this for herself.

      Like

      1. My other fav advice from my riding horse trainers (caps cause trainers always yell):
        “Don’t be a PASSENGER! You are the DRIVER here!”

        Also rather fond of:
        “THAT’S IT! GOOD!”

        Our internal voices should yell the advice of good riding instructors.
        Tell 14-year-old Kari that Adult Kari is “doing a GREAT JOB using the WHOLE arena” (of life). And that she has chosen to “pick a distant point on the horizon and AIM for THAT POINT”. Cause u r bad ass that way.

        Sheesh. I didn’t know I remembered so many of these. I should write them down for emergencies of confidence….

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I love this post so much. Words matter. All of our words matter, no matter how important or trivial; they are our thoughts.
    I agree, writing teachers should allow for more expression and less of the rules. I’m so glad you let those take a hike and you write how you feel/think now.
    How lucky are those girls who are learning from you? Very lucky!

    Parts of this reminded me of the Steve Hartman piece he used to do (I think on CBS?) The premise was WE all have a story to tell.
    Let me look…
    YES, here it is.
    http://eachstorytold.com/2018/03/03/everybody-has-a-story-cbs-news-correspondent-steve-hartman-hosted-from-1998-to-2004-random-name-picked-from-local-phone-book-dart-thrown-at-map/

    We all have a story to tell and I love sharing mine and reading yours.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. We used to watch the Sunday Morning News program as a family and we always loved THIS particular segment. Wait, you realize it wasn’t only the one story. He did this every week for many years and they shared his meetings with all the various people. I love human interest stories and I could watch/listen all day.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. We LOVE this show. We now have the Paramount Channel and they have all sorts of seasons of this show. This is how we discovered Mo Rocca. Love him too.
        I also love human interest stories. It’s exactly why I love documentaries over feature films. ❤️

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Yes, yes and YES!!!!! I need to stop running (not literally, come on now) and stand still again to write again/more! Why don’t I listen to you more often Sherpa Kari! Maybe I need to spend the day with Flat Kari

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, yes, YES! I love your words so much. I miss them. Sherpa Kari has a nice ring to it. 😉
      I’d rather you spent the day with Real Kari. Speaking of, you should listen to the most recent episode of the podcast (#4).

      Like

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