Writing to Just One Person
I’m talking to a friend about writing and how I feel as though I’ve gotten away from it in a lot of ways and how that feels deeply painful to the core of who I am. Sure, I might write for work or for The Smile Project on a daily and weekly basis, but how is that different from writing for me… what does it mean to write for me.
We’re about at our subway stops now, waiting to go to our respective homes when I think about what it means to write for myself. To journal knowing nobody will read it. To have a notebook filled with one liners and half completed poetry, hoping someday I’ll have a moment of clarity that allows me to match all the solo lines to their metaphorical lost sock lyrics.
I think about the way my writing partner and I used to send weekly words to each other. Not necessarily edited. Not necessarily refined. Not even anything we’d maybe ever look at again. But something. Something to show we were writing. Something to prove we were there.
My friend and I are at the final goodbye hug now and talking about how we have to do this again sometime. I’m wondering if I should have brought a notebook for the ideas swimming in my head. I’m reminded how nice it is to hang around artist types, creatives.
On the walk home, I begin to think about something like The Smile Project blog—a twice weekly commitment to words in some form. How did this start? How did this sharing of writing become so second nature? How do these blogs form in my mind while I’m cooking rice, while I’m moving my clothing from the washer to the dryer, while I’m falling asleep at night. How did this become what it is?
The obvious answer? Writing to one person.
There were moments early in this journey—before we had over 750 published posts or an active social media account sharing the articles—where I wasn’t sure what to write or how to express it or who might even be interested in reading. And in those moments, I’d think of one person. And I’d be specific.
I’d think about a friend who I knew was struggling with a particular concern or doubt. And I’d write to them. I’d give the advice I would want to hear when I was in that place. I’d place myself in their shoes. I’d listen more than talk. I’d share their stories (while respecting their anonymity).
With any creative endeavor, it can feel intimidating to put oneself out there. What if everyone hates it? What if everyone thinks it’s ridiculous? What if everyone thinks I’m no good?
Okay. But what if one person doesn’t? Write for one. Play for one. Create for one. Think of that one person who always has your back, who always cheers you on, and who always has your best interests at heart. Think about them. They want to see what you’re going to come up with. Do it for them. And in doing so, you might just remember why you started in the first place… you just might find your way back to doing it for you.