Do you know how important your voice is to the world? Every person has a story. Really. June 1, I was priviledged to join forces with Lacey Lyons, Belmont University adjunct English professor and Courtney Taylor Evans, of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center to present "Sharing Your Stories: Advocacy Through Personal Storytelling," at the 2012 Tennessee Disability Megaconference. There, we coached parents and adults with disAbilites on how to write their story via Tennessee's Kindred Stories project. (I've one on their website somewhere. I think it's this one: "[...]I'm giving this summer the finger!) Heads up: looks like we'll be presenting one or two more times the next year, perhaps in Nashville and then down the road in Chattanooga.
Because this applies to so many people who for one reason or another are not sharing the gift of their voice, I'm posting part of my presentation here on "The Journey with Grace":
Get Over Yourself and Get it Out Your Story!
Folks, you’re gonna have to scrap your ego to be a writer. Writing never happens with a flourish of a magic wand and a sprinkle of fairy dust. Every good story you read in reputable newspapers, books and magazines was written and rewritten and rewritten and rewritten. Did I mention it was rewritten? There’s no muse that just poofs a perfect story into your head! It takes work! Writers HONE their craft. And so should you.
In fact, highly successful multi-book author Anne Lamott coined a term. Hope no one's offended by cuss words...Because her term is “the shitty first draft.” I wrote a book eight years ago that I’m just now rewriting. And the book I wrote eight years ago was my shitty first draft. (In fact, one reputable book agent praised my book proposal profusely, but returned it because of my written samples. Good thing. It's taken another eight years of living and the publication of my actual first book (another title,) to get to where I am now. And guess what, it will be rewritten. And. Rewritten.
Nike came up with a slogan. Bet you know the one: Yes! "Just. Do. It!" Again, having a muse is a myth for most of us writers. It takes discipline. Pure and simple. Sit down on your patootty and JUST DO IT.
If you’re having trouble, pull out a journal or a scrap piece of paper and do “The Artist’s Way.” Dump your thoughts onto paper until you’ve written three pages or 30 minutes. Many writers start out their days with this exercise. Go ahead! Write down whatever comes to mind. Your irritation with your significant other. The memories of the bad tuna sandwich you ate for lunch yesterday. Your to-do list. Anything! It clears the clutter so you can get down to to the real business of writing.
And then, can the critic. Tell that mama to. Shut. Up. You know. That whiney, pointer-finger wielding voice inside your head that’s judging mercilessly every word you put down on paper. Ignore it! Tell it where to go! Remember, just do it. Get the words out and then you can go back and rewrite.
Well?! What are you waiting for?