I’ve been feeling kind of grumpy and hopeless the last few days – being sick sometimes does that to me. But something caught my eye this afternoon, and I think I may just have enough brain function to write about it. It’s a note my friend Melissa enclosed in a gift: “Your Words Matter.”
I’ve said that a lot to my writers last year. And, whaddaya know, they listened.
They’ve written things they never imagined – my lawyerly writer has become a poet; my scientist and academic have written children’s stories.
And they’ve written things they have imagined – reanimating long-dormant stories, turning memories into memoirs. Best of all, they’ve pushed their writing out of the nest for others to read. And it’s good! Better than they think it is, in many cases – which is how we can tell they’re really writers.
One of my writers lost her father in 2017, but during the last six months of his life, she was able to read him stories. Stories she had written, stories she said would not have been written if she hadn’t joined one of my writing challenges.
“Your words matter.” Sometimes more than you know.
Still, Melissa’s note said MY words matter. At first I assumed she meant the blogging I’ve done over the last 18 months (even though I’ve stopped posting daily). Or my writing streak – 615 days as of yesterday. But all of that is just writing. Writing has paid my mortgage for a long time; I don’t think about my words as having any particular value beyond that.
But last year, I pushed some words of my own out of the nest. I opened up my work beyond corporate clients and started working with individuals for the first time, teaching, guiding. Turns out it’s the best job I’ve ever had.
Looking back over the past year I think the words that have mattered the most, the words I’m most proud of, are the words of encouragement I offered my writers. When I’ve been able to reassure them that no one writes beautifully every day, that the crap they wrote today means they’ll write something better down the road…when my words have created a safe space for them to create…and they’ve created – that’s the most meaningful work I’ve ever done. And I can’t wait to do more of it.
You out there, reading this: your words matter, too. So go use them. Write. Revise. And then push your work out of the nest and watch as your words matter to someone else.
Resolving to write more in 2018? Join my 5×15 Writing Challenge. Write for 15 minutes a day for five days in a row and support a great global literacy nonprofit. More information and registration link here.