“Write Something From The Heart”

Woman_With_Writers_BlockOne of my closest friends, and I’m talking on and off the computer, is Nichole from in these small moments. She was one of my roomies at BlogHer’11, I tweet with her everyday, chat by email or Skype several times a week, and also have an occasional phone call with her. We are close. We know each other’s secrets and the good as well as the bad.

In other words, I trust her completely.

So when we were lounging in our room at BlogHer, we were talking about blogging and writing and where we see our blogs going and all of that fun stuff. And she said something that continues to resonate with me: “Natalie, will you do me a favor? Will you please write something from the heart? I miss your writing.”

I was surprised at first because I post almost everyday! I write everyday! But I promised her that I would, and have been thinking about it ever since. But I didn’t “get” what she meant until tonight.

Tonight, a couple of weeks after BlogHer and things have settled back down in Bloggyland, I decided to sit down and write from the heart. But here’s the weird part: I have nothing to write.

That’s not true exactly…I just don’t know how to write from the heart right now. I looked back over the past few months to see when the last time I wrote something just for me was. And you know what? It was at the end of May.

Well that’s not true exactly, either. I have written a couple of guest posts very close to my heart, and I have written about how I met Jason and I have my Down The Aisle (shameless plug: there’s still time to link up your favorite wedding photo!) link up going on right now. Those things are very important to me, too.

BUT…the last time I wrote something just for the sake of writing? For the love of it? To release some of my new found creativity? End of May. That was the last time I wrote something for the red dress club’s red writing hood prompts. And then it hit me…I know why I haven’t written something for just me…from my heart, just for the sake of writing and the joy it brings me. Because I’m afraid to.

You see, that prompt back in May was to “write a short piece – 600 words max – that begins with the words, “This was absolutely the last time” and ends with “She was wrong.” And I did write a fictional piece for the prompt titled Just One More Time, but it was not the original piece I wrote for the prompt.

The original piece was dark, and the topic was an ugly one that nobody wants to hear about, and it was “good” Nichole told me, but my blog was not the right place to publish it. Two other trusted friends, Cheryl from Mommy Pants and Tonya from Letters for Lucas told me the same thing.

That scared me. Because I always used to joke that I wrote about such dark things but I didn’t know why. And that piece was SO dark that I was disgusted by it and scared of why I even felt the need to write it. Why can’t I write about sunshine and rainbows? Why are my pieces always about death and murder and bad mothers and abuse?

WHY?

And so here we are. Sure I can write about the daily things in my life, and tell you about blogging and social media, and even an occasional post has popped up about my past (and most of those things are happy memories!), but I am afraid to write fiction – to put pieces of my heart and soul on paper. Why? I don’t want my heart to be seen as being black or to be judged for the dark corners of my mind.

Then there’s the writer’s block, too. The prompt for this week’s red writing hood is “You must begin your story with the words “We had to leave immediately” and end it with “And then we realized we were already home.” I started it, and promptly trashed it because it was crap. Nothing is coming anymore. No words. No brief glimpses of a scene in my mind (that’s how I was writing before this happened).

So I’m asking you, from the heart, what do I do?! How do I get past this…I don’t know what to call it…writing slump? I want to write, there’s just nothing there. My heart and head are void of the words and descriptions and pictures that used to fill them.

Help!

Comments

  1. I understand what you’re saying, I honestly do. Writer’s block and lack of subject matter are real things.

    My advice would be to go back to the beginning. Go back to when you first started your blog. What did you write about then?

    The Mama Kat prompts help me a lot as do the TRDC ones.

    Look around for inspiration. If you’re like me (and I know you are), you’ll find it in the most peculiar places.

    And lastly, let yourself go to that dark side. I for one like it. A lot. But, I’ll read whatever you write.

    I’m interested to see what others have to say.

    xoxo

  2. I struggle with this sometimes too; I get caught up in memes & stuff and don’t just sit down and write.
    I love Shell’s Pour Your Heart Out meme on Wednesdays, it inspires me to, well, pour my heart out. Also sometimes Mama Kat’s writing prompts bring a good story out of me. (I’m pretty sure you know both of these bloggers but if not shoot me and email & I’ll link them up).

  3. Sometimes, when I’m struggling, I write as though no one will ever read my words. I write for me…I write about what I would want to read in ten years.

    Write for you…write for your children…for Jason.
    Write a letter to yourself about the things that you hope you’ll always remember.

    What you write needn’t be huge…it just needs to be something to get you started. You just need the momentum.

    Because, when your words flow, Natalie? They are glorious.

    And we’ll all be here to read them.

    I adore you and I know that you’ll find your way back.
    You are *that* talented.

    Much love…

    • “Because, when your words flow, Natalie? They are glorious.”
      +1

      Your writing’s what drew me to this blog. I’m positive that if you put your heart out there, we WILL in fact judge you, but not in the way you might be afraid of. We’ll judge you as an awesome mom and blogger, just as we always have.

  4. I miss your writing voice, too my sweet friend…so proud of you!

  5. ((hugs)). I think my advice is to just let it go and not worry right now.Just open your mind and heart to inspiration and it will come. I also think it’s important for you not to feel like you have to censor your tone or vibe or whatever because it’s not unicorns and rainbows. The world needs Natalie Allen Poes, you know. :)

    xoxo Sending good writing thoughts your way. :)

  6. I agree with Nichole.

    It sounds like the block came when you wrote from the heart, then were told not to post it here. Then your mind warped it into “you write too dark, why would you do that?” and the doubt crept in.

    Write as if no one will read it.

    Write for you.

    Dark. Light. Humor.

    Write what comes to the fingers and keep going, even if you doubt it.

    Just let it flow and remember what it was you loved.

    My father reads my blog. My writing blog. Where frequently my characters are twisted or doing the nasty.

    It freaked me out a bit. I considered censoring.

    But I stopped. Because some day I’d love to see my words in print, and I know it’s not that my brain is twisted, but the characters living in them.

    Yup. I’m weird. Go figure.

    So write, Natalie. As I recall, I’ve read some dark stuff, and it was very well done. :-)

  7. You have to write like nobody’s reading, just like the advice to dance like nobody’s watching.

    Get the censors out of your head and just write.

    Nobody’s judging you. Nobody judged you for writing the piece you did not run. We all have The Dark within us.

    Write what you want to write. Not what you think you’re supposed to.

    And I, too, have missed your words.

    xo

  8. I struggle with this a lot. Because writing from the heart can be scary. But it’s OK to be dark, if that’s what comes out. You just have to let it go and jump in. I’m such a hypocrite because I don’t always follow that advice, but it’s true.

  9. Maybe you just need to start with something basic to get the creative juices going again. Pick a topic like-your favorite childhood friend and write about a fun, unique experience you had together. I think you need to find that place in your thoughts where you have lots of sentimental, tangible memories. This is just my guess and opinion of course.

  10. I agree — write like no one is reading. Even if you have to save it to a secret folder on your computer instead of publishing it on your blog. Write every day, even if it’s 5 minutes before you go to bed or before your day starts (a really good book called The Artist’s Way talks about starting your day with 5 handwritten morning pages). You’ll find your voice and your writing self again. Don’t give up.

  11. Let me see if I can shed some light. First and foremost you are overwelmed by the little ones. The last few months have been trying to say the least, hell our vacation wasn’t exactly relaxing and yes we do it to ourselfs all the time(we’re a couple of idiots), but we try! We have more extended family problems than we have ever had and yes you worry about everyone, its who you are. Finally I say if you are feeling the darkness then let the shit fly(yes pun intended). Its not who you are but what you are feeling at the time and don’t ever be ashamed of what is in your heart, I know it’s 99% love! Let the juices flow, anyway you see fit(let me know if you need any help)wink/wink or how ever you blogtweeters do it.

  12. If it’s not the fictional writing you’re afraid of, but of how people see your fiction and how it reflects on you, that’s going to choke you every time.

    Make a separate page or a section of the blog for that, if it doesn’t jive with your everyday content. Let the other side of you out there. But let it out. It snowballs. In a good way.

    No one is sunshine and rainbows all time. Michael Stipe crooned it best. Everybody hurts.

    So here’s the thing. I write a lot about flirting and sex and falling in love and heartbreak. And sure, I’ve experienced all that, but it doesn’t define me (the way I write about sex over there, you’d think I was a p o r n star or a nymphomaniac, but no.). Just because you tend to express tougher, uglier things in your fiction, doesn’t mean you are that. Struggle and tension are at the heart of good writing, no matter the genre.

    And I second Nichole’s request. I miss that side of your voice.

  13. For me, when I run into these bouts with writers block…it’s usually because there’s something I want to write about but I’m afraid of it. Maybe it’s a nagging question, or something bad going on, or a memory I don’t want to remember. I try to be open and honest on my blog, but I can’t put everything out there…and I think I look at my blog as my writing tool.

    I have to remember that I can write when ever and where ever I want. So that’s what I try to do. Once I get that one little thing that’s blocking me out of the way, the words seem to flow again.

    Sit down and just pour it out on a sheet of paper – personally, I really like to write with a pen and paper – or a blank word document. Write it thinking that no one will ever read it so you can be as free as you want.

    Good luck…I hate these times.

  14. As a reader, I would love to read your dark stuff. No one can be hearts and rainbows all the time and I want to read what flows from you whether it is dark or light. Don’t stifle your creativity because of fear. Let it all out.

  15. I totally agree with Nichole and Cheryl. Writing is very cathartic for me but the only reason it has gotten to that point is because I just let go and write as if no one is reading. I write about what I need to write about. I have found that if I don’t do that my writers block just grows.
    I noticed someone else said you should create a separate tab for fiction and maybe that would help some with your self-consciousness.
    One other thing I do to get over writers block is turn to the book Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott. Just reading a chapter or two of it gets me in the right frame of mind.
    Hope to read your words soon!

  16. Maybe my thoughts are because I’m still fairly new to blogging and you’ll all tell me I’m wrong (LoL) but … I write when I am inspired or feel led to. (Religious blog.)

    If not feeling the motivation, I don’t write or use a scripture or even e-mail inspirations that others have sent.

    There’s also a dark side to my posts as it depends on the day or moment which my readers don’t seem to mind. It makes me, me. (LoL)

    Whatever you do Natalie, I love your blog. Love your posts and, will be praying for you. :)

  17. Fiction is not a reflection of your heart. People think that fiction is secretly real but the best fiction is from the imagination. Having access to a dark and cruel imagination means nothing about who you are as a person except you have the capacity to see things in your mind’s eye that most people can’t and won’t see. That’s a gift. Maybe you have writers block because you see it as a curse.

  18. I assume when someone writes fiction, it’s their creativity coming through. Not necessarily their heart.

    Perhaps something non-fiction?

  19. Have you ever read a good mystery or suspense novel. Those books are filled with darkness but yet people clamor to read them.

    Why?

    Because the darkness is apart of human nature.

    If that is what you want to write, then write it. Like someone else said, it take creativity to write about those things and that doesn’t mean its what in your heart. You are just telling a story.

    Also, its very difficult to pound out a story when you are battling with small children and exhausted at the end of the day.

    Don’t put pressure on yourself to write something awesome because it will never come. Just take an idea and ‘chew on it’ for a while and I promise, the story will come.

  20. I have nothing to add, all these wonderful women told you “FROM THEIR HEARTS” that you can’t censor that stuff, it just comes. I want you to write what makes you feel good, proud, wanting to hit publish, EVEN if it makes US uncomfortable. Really.

    Nothing you put here is ever going to make me leave or not read again, or push me away. When I write the dark stuff whether it’s real or fiction, I know that getting it out of me is freeing it from me. All of have that place in us and allowing it light is not a bad thing.

    I’m sorry for the block, because you have a gift, a talent and you should find it again. We’re here…..waiting, listening and reading. :)
    xo

  21. I struggle with this, too. I even started a second blog where I could write about things not always related to my kids and not always sunshine and rainbows. But now I’m stuck. Like you, I want to write, but nothing comes out that I like.

    I think it’s fear – fear of what other’s will think or fear you aren’t conveying your message properly.

    Inspiration can sometimes comes to me at the oddest of times. Perhaps take a step back and try not to worry about it. When you least expect it, something will come. And dark or not, I’ll read.

  22. I’m not an expert by any means, but I think that what is holding you back isn’t exactly writer’s block but the worry of how people will view your writing. And I don’t think you should worry about that.

    If you are concerned with it “fitting” on your blog, develop a separate tab, like someone already recommended but I wanted to second or third that idea. (Although I get this, because my blog is read by a bunch of people in my real life, so I do have a degree of censorship on there.)

    It’s ok for your writing to be dark. It’s ok for it to be ugly and painful. Our imaginations and subconsciousness go to strange places sometimes. Maybe it’s a way of working through fears or worries. But it’s not a reflection of how you feel and what you want.

    Your readers know that you are a wonderful person. It shines through your words and your smile all the time on here in your daily posts. Write without worrying about what your readers think, and the words might start flowing more. (And the awesome thing about Write on Edge, besides the pretty new site, is that it is an amazingly supportive place.)

    Good luck!!

  23. Your writing is definitely not crap…for sure. The first thing that comes to you, just start writing…even if you don’t use it. Getting yourself back into the habit of showing emotion and feeling in your writing will come with it. I know you will find it, you are great at what you do!

  24. I know exactly what you mean. I was thinking about this over the weekend. How I haven’t blogged anything solid, heartful, in a long time. I miss it. I miss the release. On Monday I actually jotted some things down. I have yet to finish it and I don’t know if I ever will but it felt good. I have to remind myself that it doesn’t have to be mind blowing or even good for that matter, but it has to be me and my heart. Good luck. You can’t fail here! Plus, you have an awesome support group.

  25. You need to release those dark things in order for the rainbows and sunshine to come in. Often times if I’m writing something close to my heart there will be tears the whole time I’m typing. I feel AMAZING when it’s done. If you are so afraid maybe consider an anonymous blog not connected to this one at all. There is an audience for anything you have to say.

  26. It’s never easy, girl. And the reason I never do any sort of prompt is that I need to write WHEN it comes to me. If I’ve got nothing? I don’t post. Or I go with a sassy, snarky picture. It’s just how I’m wired, I can’t put up something just because I think I should. I do it when I want to.

    As for the block – no answers. Wish I had some for you. Oh, and if you choose to write “dark” that’s OK, that’s where your brain is flowing.

  27. Oh wow. I hope you realize how many writers this happens to. Not just you. There are A LOT that go through writer’s block. Is doesn’t mean the stories aren’t there. It only means that you need time to process them. Time to figure out the best way to present the words.

    It took me 2.5 weeks for me to figure out how to write yesterday’s post about my experience about blogher. It is not puppies and rainbows. HELL TO THE NO. It’s not anything of the sort. It is scary and dark and quite possibly the most awful thing I’ve ever had to write.

    But I put it out there. I’m glad I did. I would LOVE to read your dark stories. I think reading the hard stuff is the only way we grow and change.

    Good luck finding your mojo :)

  28. Natalie. I’m struggling with what to say to you. I WANT to read your dark stuff because its just another side of you. Its just MORE Natalie.

    As cliche as it sounds, it is true: the greater the risk, the greater the reward. I think you’ll find a different reader for your dark stuff, the friends that already love you and then the reader who is looking for that sort of writing.
    And I think you’ll find release, some catharsis. I know that is how it works for me.

    BTW, I LOVE that Nichole said that to you. Isn’t she wonderful?

  29. I know that you received advice to not publish the piece, because you were told this was not the place to publish it. But I think stifling that piece of writing has stifled your writing in general. You no longer trust your instincts, and so your words are not flowing. Maybe you need to publish it somewhere (on a separate “writing” blog, or in a separate section clearly marked fiction, or on someone else’s blog)…and as you honor your words, you will find that you have more words, and that they flow more easily.

    When I read dark fiction, I never assume that it is the author’s reality or the author’s secret desires coming out.

  30. What a great post, and as a writer, I can SO relate. I’ve been told many times before that my writing is too dark, too. I always used to wonder WHY I could never seem to write anything light and joyous. I just never could.

    And therefore, I didn’t share all my work. And it sucks, because as cathartic as it is to get stuff out on “paper,” it’s even more cathartic to have someone read what you labored over.

    I wish I had an answer. All of get into those writing slumps sometimes, but you just keep trying, just keep waiting for that moment that it comes back to you.

    And write it all anyway–whether dark or light. Even if some don’t accept it, it’s you, because its YOUR writing, and that’s what will bring you back.

    Glad I found your blog!

  31. I’m very interested to see how you get your voice back. Leading up to BlogHer, I realized that I too rarely delve too deep in my posts. I’ve been trying to work on that which means I’ve been posting less… Good luck & please share.

  32. Natalie…I just love reading what you write…funny, dark, sentimental. I feel like I am struggling with the same things right now…so what I am doing? Really just writing about what is going on. For example, my torn calf muscle? Is that really exciting? NO..but it is taking over my world….and so I wrote about it.

    Write for you, your kids, something that will bring a smile to your face when you read it again in 10 years!!

    You are awesome & by the way…you NEED to come up to visit me so we can go to Napa together.

    #IAmSerious

  33. I honestly think the “darkness” in your fiction pieces comes easily for you only because that’s what your gift is. You have a way of reaching in and grabbing your readers by the heart and making them care about the characters. Not all writers can do that…and that’s why I think, no matter what you write whether it’s a happy piece or a dark piece, you make people care…and really, isn’t that one of the reasons you write in the first place?

  34. I understand. I have certain more serious – some would say “darker” – pieces floating around in my head too. Some I’ve even titled, added to my draft queue and scratched out some notes here and there. Basically, I know what I want to say, I just don’t know how to say it. Yet.

    But I also know the time will come. Those thoughts aren’t going away. They’ll come out eventually, at the right time, in the right away, and in a post that I not only feel comfortable publishing but also proud. And I know that post will be so much better than it would’ve been if I’d forced it. As a blogger, I may “perform” for an audience, but I *write* for me.

    So, while I understand and appreciate what Nichole was saying to you, don’t force it. Give her what she wants – write something from the heart – but do it in a way that feels right to YOU. As a faithful reader, she’ll appreciate it more and, as a writer, so will you. :)

  35. The only way that I can think to get through writer’s block is to write. Just like the only way to get through a slump in baseball is to get more at-bats.

    It’s funny – I have a few bloggers that I talk to, daily – I trust them, and there are even some that I’ll give my saucier works to, just to see how they work.

    Nichole from In These Small Moments is one of those bloggers that I kind-of watch from afar and read regularly. And, even from afar, I completely get that “trust implicitly.”

    One of the things that blogging gets us is the communities that we know & love so much. And, in these communities, we encourage each other to write . . . and we help each other figure out what to write. And, with all that prompting, the “from the heart” kind of goes away.

    But, there’s been plenty from your heart – even if it’s small doses. At least, I’ve felt it.

  36. Sweet Natalie,

    I came over here to check out all your wedding pics and links, which by the way, your wedding picture is so full of love and joy and beauty, I see why it is your favorite. But then I scrolled up here to write a comment because I wanted to apologize for not getting over here to your place as much as I should because truly, I was going to tell you, I love your writing.

    And then I read this.

    Know that you’re not alone. Know that self doubt and feelings of “I can’t” happen to all writers.

    As for me, when I feel like I’m writing for something or someone else, I freeze up. Relax and let the words come. I write best when I’m writing what’s close to my heart.

    And you are an amazing writer. Don’t be too hard on yourself. And let whatever comes out of your writer heart and mind, let it just flow. Don’t worry. Just write.

  37. I totally get it. I just wrote a post this morning about how all the things on my heart to write about are things I’ve been refusing to write and it’s left me with….nothing.

    I made the decision this morning to write, period. Whatever it is. Trying to force a topic I don’t feel is making me feel fake and killing my creativity. It’s a hard decision to make, though, and as I implement these changes, I’m prepared to loose some followers that can’t deal with it.

    I hope you find a way to work through it!

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