by Robin Finn @Robinfinnauthor

What Your Soul Wants To Say

When you stop critiquing everything you write and allow what wants to be written, you invite a ‘Divine Download.’

This morning, I read a personal essay about an author’s experience having a parent with mental illness. As I read the piece, I was stunned by the writer’s courage. It made me think about my own writing and teaching and what it is all about. To me, writing isn’t just about words and sentences and paragraphs. It’s about truth. This is scary. Sometimes, terrifying.

Whether you are journaling or novel writing or drafting a personal essay, writing is allowing yourself to connect to What Wants To Be Said. Which is not necessarily the same as What You Want To Say. In fact, often, What Wants To Be Said is the exact opposite of What You Want To Say or what you wish you could say, or what you wish your truth was. But, nevertheless, the words trapped inside want to get out. Liberating them is a writer’s job. It is harder than you think. But it doesn’t have to be.

In my classes, I don’t allow critical feedback on freshly written material. I believe picking apart freshly written material with a red pen is not helpful. It shuts people down before their writing has a chance to stretch out into what it is meant to be. In my spiritual training, we learned about releasing self-judgment. Part of refraining from editing early work is about resisting the urge to judge our writing. Editing has its place.

When I first started writing, I wrote about my feelings of isolation and judgment as a mom of a hyperactive child. It was so painful. My life was so painful. Writing about it was so painful. Sharing it was terrifying.

But it allowed for so much transformation. I let go of shame. I wrote what wanted to be written. I told readers, to the best of my ability, that they weren’t alone. I, too, was drowning in mom judgment. I, too, knew how having a hyperactive kid made us both easy targets for other people’s judgment. I, too, felt like we had bullseyes on our backs.

My early essays on parenting were so revealing. I don’t know if I would have had the momentum to finish them if I had focused on editing every line. I think as I crossed out words and rearranged paragraphs my courage would have dwindled as well as my connection to what wanted to be said. So, I didn’t. I focused on freeing the words trapped inside of me. And, freed, they were. I call this the “Divine Download” — the state when truth pours forth and you, the writer, can only get out of the way.

Writers know, rewriting is writing. But I believe that the place for critique and editing and revision is well after The Divine Download, after your full, unfettered expression pours out of you (often in unpredictable and surprising ways). I believe that allowing your true self-expression to come forward and acknowledging the beauty and truth inherent in it (another scary experience) is more than half the battle: it is the battle.

As I read through my morning news sites, I am struck by the strength of other people’s personal essays. Some are so brave they stun me. When I write, I summon the courage to allow what wants to come forth to pour through my pen. In that way, writing becomes more than an art or craft, it is a way of being in the world. It is the Divine Download. It is sharing what the soul wants to say.

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By Robin Finn — She’s sweaty. She has to pee. She has teenagers. No wonder she can’t sleep.(Photo: Steven Pahel/Unsplash)

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Robin Finn

Robin Finn

Founder: Heart.Soul.Pen.® for women writers & the Women’s Writing Den. Essays: @NYTimes @WashPo @LATimes @BuzzFeed. Author: “Restless in L.A.” www.robinfinn.com

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