I’m fresh off a week-long writing seminar at the Santa Fe Writers Lab, nestled on the edge of the Santa Fe National Forest – with the masterful writing teacher, Natalie Goldberg – I’m still trying to digest what happened. I figured the week would be easy and fun, sharing our writing, followed by gushing about how fabulous our prose was. Right on? Not so much.
We wrote our asses off for hours each day. Hours. Bared our souls. Read aloud through tears in a circle of 30 participants whose only instructions were to hold space and listen as our voices quivered. Just l-i-s-t-e-n.
Wash, rinse, repeat.
My frustration was palpable. What? No validation as a writer? No cheers about how witty I am? What I discovered was this: There is something totally freeing about writing without judgment. Writing to just speak whatever you think and feel, unedited and raw. What a concept! In a society where we are driven by ‘likes’ and asking am I good enough, I now get what Natalie wished for us:
To simply write for pure pleasure. This is the practice.
If you write, you are a writer. To hell with the number of followers, published pieces, and the Nobel Literature Prize. I’d say the same thing goes for anything you do my lovely friend: if you paint, you’re a painter. If you sing, you’re a singer. If you cook, you’re a chef. Give yourself permission to ‘be’ without judgment from anyone, including you.
And whatever you do, don’t wait until you feel you’re ‘good enough’ to share your writing, to show your paintings, to sing for an audience, or to cook a seven-course meal for someone, anyone.
Just shut up and write. ~ Natalie Goldberg