“Writing is like driving the car at night. You never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”   quote from E.L. Doctorow

So true.  When you think you don’t know what to write about, you just start writing and then write some more.  Soon the story sifts out and draft upon draft eventually becomes a book.  That’s how I did it.  It took me four years but I loved the writing, especially on the days when tears dripped onto my laptop.  Then I knew I was getting at what mattered.

Writing for me is a spiritual practice, like meditating, or yoga.  I write in my journal everyday and just put down any thoughts that are swirling around in my head.  I find it to be a sort of purging or a way to get in touch with myself.  Sometimes I discover new ways to look at my problems and when I close up my laptop, I think OK, that problem doesn’t really have the turbulence it did.  My psyche is restored to calm waters.

Most of what I am trying to teach myself when I write is that I can’t change people.   Here is an example of a typical thought of mine: “If she just cut the tomatoes like this it would be so much easier.”  Easier for whom?  She seems to be liking the way she is cutting the tomatoes, so who am I to think I have a better way and whose life would be better if she took my advice? Probably not hers and what difference would it really make to mine?  I seem to need to learn this lesson over and over.  I am so much happier when I let others be who they are. I believe it is this obsessive need to control my environment that I inherited from my father that keeps me having to re-learn this lesson on a daily basis.

Writing helps me remember the direction I want my thoughts to go in.  It is quite uplifting.  I love looking back one year ago or two, to read my journal entry.  Most of the time it seems that I am in a better place now than I was in the past and this is encouraging.  One thing I wrote about a year ago was that I am pregnant with a book inside of me, that is why my belly sticks out.  When I give birth to my book, I will have a flattened stomach.  Well, as of today, the scale says 2 lb. less of belly so maybe I am getting there.  I am working on the cover and the acknowledgements and the final edits.  Wouldn’t that be cool if there was something to this rounded belly that helped me write my teen pregnancy story?

Writing is good for the soul and bellies are good for the writing, depending on the subject matter.

Cheryl Strayed, best selling author of the book “Wild” was interviewed on this blog:

A big part of your Dear Sugar persona has been about encouraging your readers to write. Why?
I often recommend writing as a tool for self-discovery because it’s helped me so much. I use writing in different ways: I write as an artist but I also write when I’m just trying to work through something or make a tough decision. And I think, a lot of times, even people who aren’t writers will write in crisis. They’ll write in their journals after breaking up with someone, even though they haven’t written for two years. That’s because it’s a way to essentially practice your thoughts and see what’s there. Writing forces you to locate your clarity. “