Growing up, slowly beginning in first grade until my second year of college, anyone who knew me could hear my dismissive statement of, “I’m not a writer, I’m bad at it!” After reflecting on the genesis of this belief, I was surprised at what I had discovered. The root of my self-deprecating statement started, and continued, from teachers.
I was the kid that was always on the go and hated to sleep (I still kind of do). My parents noticed as soon as I started walking that I liked to run and run fast. I jumped on couches and bounced my way through the living room. They became aware of not only the damage to their furniture but the very possible injuries that could result from this boundless energy. From that point, I was enrolled in multiple dance classes, piano lessons, girl scouts, and theater camp. All of these activities chosen so I could unleash my creativity but burn up my nervous energy at the same time. This was great for me and my parents, because I would tire myself out enough to sleep.
Starting in first grade, I was on honor roll. Almost every subject came easy to me, except for writing. I liked reading and did not have challenges comprehending it, but writing was another story. I had enough re-writes on my essays to get a good grade, but I didn’t understand why my writing was bad or how to fix it on my own. For years I would get writing assignments and essays handed back, with a sea of red marks indicating that my thoughts were all over the place, I didn’t understand tense, and my arguments were incoherent. Year after year confirmed that I was not good at writing and I accepted that. I took on this core belief until second year of college.
I was in community college at the time and because I did not do well on the writing placement exam (shocker), I had to take remedial writing. To my surprise, I did really well and I chalked that up to one fact that was missing my entire life: No one taught me how to write. I’m not saying anything against my English teachers (okay, maybe some of them) but I never was taught how to get my point across in a way that was easy to understand.
My spelling was always great and I usually got compliments on my ideas or arguments, but I struggled with making my papers easy to understand. The remedial class taught me about tense and how to present your ideas in a way that was coherent. Everything clicked for me when I got to grade another student’s assignment. I could see how to fix their errors and in turn, I knew how to fix my own. I figured out how to edit. It was like someone finally turned on the light.
After my remedial writing class, I started getting grades I never got on my writing before without numerous re-writes. I even got several compliments from professors about my creative writing. Creative writing was then put on hold because I had to focus on psychology papers and research papers until I graduated with my Masters. I had forgotten about my love of creative writing. Thanks to the slow down in life with quarantine, I re-introduced myself to creative writing. I found myself again and noticed that it brought things deep within my subconscious up to the surface.
A creative writing exercise I really like is to read a quote, poem, or just mediate for a few minutes. Then, think of a word or a phrase that resonates with you from the previous activity. Once you have a word or phrase in mind, turn it into an acrostic, where certain letters in each line form a word or words. The last time I did this, I had just meditated so by no surprise, the word I resonated with was “calm”.
Continue, at all costs.
Allow yourself to be you.
Let it go, let it be free.
Make yourself known and without worry.
Now, I had no idea that the word “calm” would bring up reminders of what I should do in my life. In this simple exercise, my mind wanted to express instructions on how to make myself feel calm. I trusted my intuition and just let whatever come to mind out on the paper. This poem is now kept in my quarantine bedroom/office to remind myself everyday of what I need to do to keep calm.
I write a few times a week in a creative capacity. Sometimes it’s a poem, prose, or even a short story. It’s a great way to get everything that is stored in my body and my mind out. It’s a release that I’m grateful I found again.