What do you write when the world feels insane?
I've been feeling overwhelmed and grief-stricken by world events this summer. And from what I've witnessed in my community, I'm not alone.
I'm afraid for our planet right now. I think we all are.
The severity of the unrest and violence happening in our world can make sitting down to write my novel feel... inconsequential. Not enough.
When the problems we are facing are so big, how can we take time out to write a story?
When I really feel untethered and afraid, I go to books for comfort. And when I'm reading, I remember why our writing is so important.
Because it is in our writing that we connect.
We are not separate from anyone or anything. We know that. We can all feel it, especially now.
When we write with love, we transmit love. I mean, we start to vibrate differently when we're connected to the source of our stories. It’s how we find calm.
Writing is good and meaningful work to do in scary, destabilizing times. The very act of writing brings peace and focus to a world that needs to feel love and sanity.
When your mind is on the receptive setting, it's a gift. Give yourself, those around you, and those who read your writing (even if that's just one trusted friend) this gift.
The act of writing brings peace; the stories we write give meaning.
If you are called to write about political matters, please do so, with empathy and courage. But if you're not writing about Brexit or Trump or Black Lives Matter or global warming, your stories are still important.
Take your grief, fear, confusion, and anger and write with it. Give it form. Put it to use: give it meaning. Write with love and respect for the fullness of the emotions you are feeling. Whatever the story, whatever the genre.
As my wise friend Annie reminded me recently, love is a verb.
When we do something with love, we are taking action.
Writing is action. We need to be writing through our fears. And we need to write with determined and fierce love.
Yes, it feels vulnerable to put words on the page, especially when they are charged with emotion. This is a risk we need to take right now.
We need to write, because we are scared.
Our planet needs massive love. We make this big love happen with repeated small acts of love. We can love when we slice bread for sandwiches, braid a child's hair, or encourage a friend to take a rest.
We can also love when we put our pen to the page and write on behalf of our confusion, rage, grief, fear, hope, curiosity, and optimism.
Here is a list of titles I keep by my nightstand these days:
To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings, by John O'Donohue
When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times, by Pema Chodron
Diana, Herself: An Allegory of Awakening, by Martha Beck
Hardwiring Happiness, by Rick Hanson
Turning to One Another, by Margaret Wheatley
Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities, by Rebecca Solnit
Love in the Time of Global Warming, by Francesca Lia Block
I am so grateful to these writers for writing with fierce and determined love, even when they were faced with painful emotion. I am so glad that they gave themselves permission to write, so I can read their words today.
Give yourself permission to be a writer right now.
And when you're writing, give yourself more rest than you think you need.