“The ultimate goal of writing is nothing less than
‘enlargement of the soul’ of the writer.
Writing affirms your life. Writing about the details of your
life says that those details matter.
Even the writing you do from out of your frustration,
depression and despair indicates that
these feelings are important and, thus,
that your life matters.
Writing is an embrace of life,
with all its sorrows and contradictions,
and an affirmation
of the creative power within you.
Writing is a deep stillness. A listening.”
Freeing Your Creativity: A Writer’s Guide
Sometimes I wonder why I teach writing. But a couple of weeks ago, during my Middle School Writing Class, something happened that sealed the deal. I share this private moment in one of my student’s life to show the significance and power of “writing down” the thoughts of our hearts.
It was a typical middle school writing class. Students bound my steps and enter my second floor writing studio, where they unpack their notebooks, set out their supplies, and prepare for their expected biweekly quiz, lecture, group activity, and stimulating popcorn writing prompt! This week I instructed my ambitious class to craft a little story with the line, “Where were you last night?” tucked somewhere in its content. After fifteen minutes, we began sharing stories.
One beautiful little girl, whom I will call Precious* (smile), begins reading. After about a minute, I noticed her head lowering and then watched her melt into a puddle of tears. Her story was about the events that unfolded in her house the night before our class. Her father, a Marine Corp Officer, had left for yet another long assignment—undisclosed—because he serves in military intelligence. “My father is gone again. I don’t know where he went. We aren’t allowed to know where he is,” she cried.
All I could do was hug her. The rest of the class responded so sweetly. After praying for her and her family, I comforted her and thanked her for writing so honestly. Using this moment as a teaching moment, I encouraged her and the class to keep a journal. A safe place for their deepest thoughts. A word refuge where they can wrestle with pain and anger—emotions oftentimes too difficult to speak.
One of my favorite writing teachers, Heather Sellers (author, Chapter after Chapter) says it this way, “Writers are the people who sit smack-dab in the middle of the mess.” Precious was smack-dab in the middle of her sadness and wrote about it. Her words laden with emotional force. As I watched the process, I knew, once again, why I love the power of the pen. It released her anguished heart and freed her emotions enough so she could cry.
Are you smack-dab in the middle of a mess? Try picking up your pen and putting your heart on paper. The details of your life matter to God. Write them down. Get them off your chest! I pray it does for you what it did for Precious.
*Name changed (smile).