When it comes to connecting with people through my writing, sometimes I end up getting a little emotional. And I don’t even realize it.
This isn’t always a good thing. I’m talking to that guy I wrote a love letter to in, like, fifth grade. Sorry I went overboard with the I love yous. My bad.
Addressing my readers now. Sorry. Had to get that off my chest.
You can’t always see the depth in your own words. Sometimes it’s hard for you to see your work as a whole, because you’re working on it one piece at a time.
You don’t always know how impactful your thoughts are until they reach another person.
And even then, you don’t know how your words have made them feel until they tell you.
Recently I was caught off guard when I wrote something I wasn’t confident about — and received a heartfelt response I was not expecting.
Basically, I wrote something I felt I had rushed, hadn’t put nearly enough time into, and shouldn’t have sent out into the world. All I could do was my best in the moment — and hope that my words conveyed the level of sincerity and passion I felt when I wrote it.
I thought it was terrible. I was embarrassed by it and wished I hadn’t even written it.
It was received with so much gratitude and appreciation that I cried.
First — never underestimate your own ability to say something meaningful. You’re a writer. You may not think what you’re writing matters or means anything significant. But that’s because you’re the one writing it. Step outside yourself for a moment and really think about what your words might mean to the person, or people, they are meant for.
You may never meet most of the people your words reach. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t making a difference somewhere. If you feel something should be written and sent the way it is, that’s your heart telling you it’s exactly what it needs to be. Don’t let your self-doubt stand in your way. You don’t know how the outside world is going to receive it until they receive it.
And they’ll never receive it if you hold it back for, let’s be honest, pretty selfish reasons.
It’s not always about you. Sometimes, some words are meant for others to read, even if they don’t impact you as deeply as you feel they should. Yes, you have to put a little bit of yourself into everything you write. But from your perspective, it’s not always going to be easy to feel its impact. And that’s OK.
Second — if you are ever on the receiving end of a note or message that means the world to you, say something. Take the time to thank that person and let them know how it made you feel. Because for all you know, the writer on the other end of that message was afraid it wouldn’t mean anything. And knowing they were wrong, that their words actually made a difference in your life — no matter how small — will mean the world to them.
They’re not expecting a thank-you. It’s not an obligation or the reason behind what they wrote. But it’s nice to know that all their work was worth it, even if to only one person.
It doesn’t have to be a long, revealing letter. Even just a sentence or two can make a huge difference to the person whose words made a big difference in your own life.
Take the time to reflect that gratitude back. Because you just never know how it might help someone else truly see the value of their own work — maybe for the first time ever.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.