Thanks to Jackson for inspiring this post.
Writing is one of those skills that needs constant refining. We are never the best writers we can be. We may be the best we have ever been, but how much we have yet to grow is unfathomable. We only know that we want to grow, and need to grow, and so we’re constantly doing what we can to write better.
There are many ways to “get better” at writing. Usually, “getting better” means in part that you let go of the mindset that sharing your work with other people is scary, unsafe or unnecessary.
But not always.
Sometimes, keeping some of it for only you to hold becomes a practice that makes you not only a stronger writer, but a stronger human being.
Everyone processes emotions, organizes thoughts and picks apart situations using their own personal methodologies. We take bits and pieces of strategies and lessons from those we trust and respect and build from them our own coping mechanisms.
For some of us, that mechanism just so happens to be writing.
Is it wrong to enclose your thoughts in a journal or private blog reserved only for you? Is it wrong to selfishly conceal your thoughts and ideas from the world?
Of course not. You have at least one friend who shares TMI about themselves on social media or on their blog (if you still even follow them).
It’s quite possible that reserving some essays, some analyses, some reflections for only your eyes is the best career move you will ever make.
That thing you write and share with no one might be the best thing you have yet to and will ever write. Because when we strip away the possibility that someone will judge our work by its quality or for its deeper implications, we are left with only a blank page accessible only to ourselves. Interpretable only by our own intellectual capacities.
And on that blank page, we grant ourselves permission to transform thoughts and feelings into dangerous metaphors. To find the deeper meanings buried beneath our mannerisms. To unlock a more complex and complete understanding of where we have been, how that has brought us to where we are now, and where we desire to go next.
That being said, the next time you sit down to write something meant only for you, and weave together a thesis, a proposal, an essay, a manifesto of sorts, leave it in only your company for awhile as you originally planned.
Then go back to it later. Read through it again. Analyze it. Dissect and reassemble it.
What you have in front of you may very well be the absolute extent of what you are currently capable of creating.
Can you take what you have learned from the work you have crafted, the same one that will never meet the eyes of another, and extract from it bits and pieces of its finest elements? Can you transfer those elements over to the next project you put together for dozens, hundreds, even thousands of pairs of eyes to judge its quality, its implications, its worth?
Yes. You can. And you will.
Because that is how you might become the best writer you may ever be.
Image courtesy of Tyler Nienhouse/flickr.com.