Last week, I began a five-week series about how I put words to the wordless writing process. My description is not going to align with everyone – anyone? – else’s, and that’s okay. We all do this journey our own way. Read the first step – Give In & Sit Down – here.
I breathe deep. Listen to the sound of air moving past my nostrils and feel the tiniest of cracks along my spin. I’m going in, into myself, but into the part of me that is not me. The part of me that ties into the Greater Than Me and into the you that rests glowing behind your heart.
I’m listening. Listening to hear my own truest voice. The one that is an echo. The one that is original. The one that is mine.
I sit in this depth, and if I tune my ears, my voice bounces gently back to me.
Hearing is the first thing.
When I was in my school, I took a translation course, a course I was not happy to take. I didn’t – still don’t – speak a language other than English, and so I thought this course was useless to me. What would I possibly need to gain here?
The answer – everything.
The course taught me to settle in and translate the images, the ideas, the emotions that I pull out of that orange cave-glow behind my heart into language. It taught me to trust that the way I read other’s words held truth if I listened well. It taught me to trust my own voice that way, too.
So now I know that when I look outside at the lush grass beyond my office door it’s right to say the grass is like muppet fur, but not Oscar. No, Snuffleupagus fur. Odd and perfect and all its own.
All writing is translation. I think someone famous said that, or maybe I found those words and find them so true that I need them to come from someone beyond me. It doesn’t matter.
All writing is translation.
So here are four things to try to get yourself listening to your truest voice:
- Keep your readers behind you. You need to remember that you write for other people, if you share your writing publicly. But you don’t need them front and center. It’s enough to hold them still behind your presence, to know they are there but not to focus on them. Focusing on them means you can’t focus on your own voice.
- Pause and breath. Nothing is going to be lost if you feel the coolness of air enter your nose. You won’t lose momentum by relaxing your jaw and taking a few seconds to let a bird call tingle through your forearms. You will, however, go deeper, more in. You’ll unbrace yourself and let you find you.
- Pray. Intend. Hope. If you come from a Christian tradition like I do, you might offer a breath of prayer for help. If you practice yoga like I do, you might set a tiny intention for your words. If your spiritual self is not named, then hold a glow of hope before you as the path into which you will walk.
- Listen. Listen ONLY to yourself, to your voice that comes as a whisper from behind your heart. You don’t need to worry – you aren’t shutting out God or the universe by focusing on your own voice. God and all God’s goodness indwells you. Your voice is one of the ways you hear that. So listen. Even picture yourself bending an ear to your heart.
Then write. Write the wacky, broken sentence, muppet-laden images that rise up from within you. Write true. Write you. It will be beautiful. It will need polishing. It will be beautiful.
When you listen to your heart’s voice, what does it sound like? I’d be so grateful to hear about your voice in the comments below.
My dear friend Shawn Smucker is beginning a six-week course called Live Better, Write Better with the intention of helping us, as writers, find more of our silence, more of our adventure, more of our completion in our writing. Through today, May 11, 2016, the course is just $47, and I hope you will sign-up. I am confident it will change your life in all the best ways.