A well known and wonderful book written by a woman
named Brenda Ueland in the 1930’s is called, “If You
Want to Write.” Sometimes I think one of my books
on writing, or the subtitle at least, will be,
“If you need to write.”

Yes, it’s true, many people want to write, and many
people want to have written…want to be the famous
writer they’ll be after they write the book of their dreams.

And all that is good. True, honest desire can be a
pure fuel for powerful action.

But I know from my experience, and the experience
of many writers I know, as well as many of my
students, is that a lot of us write because we need to write.

The following quote expresses something of why this is so:

“For years I have endeavored to calm an impetuous
tide—laboring to make my feelings take an orderly
course—it was striving against the stream.”
--Mary Wollstonecraft

How do you know if you really need to write?

Often, it’s a gentle nudge inside yourself. Maybe you
hear edges of language in your head. Maybe you
notice snippets of conversation and jot them down
in some corner of your consciousness. Maybe you
simply feel out of sorts, out of touch with yourself,
like a part of you has gotten lost.

Sometimes I can most identify my own need to write
by a certain sense of homesickness, or restlessness
that I feel. Time after time, when I feel myself to be
lost or wandering, like an orphan in need of a safe
harbor, it all changes when I sit down to write something real.

So, if you sense that you do need to write, how do
you decide to make the leap, to make writing a priority,
among all the other things on your list?

Well, of course, that is a very personal decision.
It’s between you and your heart, between you and
whatever sources you call upon for guidance.
I can’t presume to know what’s best for you.

What I can offer, is my knowledge that making a
decision that you do want to write holds the potential
to bring up every demon imaginable. So if you find
yourself making a long list of reasons why you really
can’t write, not now, consider that maybe it’s a voice
in your head that is speaking more from a place of
protectiveness, than one of true love and trust.

Another quote:
Any original and wholehearted response to life carries
the capacity to shift the energy of consciousness, and
the result is transformation of one degree or another.

--Richard Moss

Writing always has the potential to bring about a
profound transformation, and some part of your
psyche knows that. While a part of you may long to
write, another part of you may fear the journey that
writing can take you on.

Why all this attention to the need to write?

Because I want you to know about some special
opportunities coming up.

And I have to confess, I completely hate marketing.
It’s true. I spent a year in a heart centered-spiritually
based marketing class, because I care so deeply about
this work that I offer, and I wanted to learn a way to
market that I could stomach, and I still
hate any kind of selling.

It puts me in a bind, because I have these workshops
that I know are just incredible,
I know that people’s lives have been changed in the
course of them, and all the things that I am supposed
to do to let you know about them are things that I do
not like to do. It must be some kind of soul growth
opportunity, don’t you think?

So here I am, being the only thing I know how to be,
a writer. As a writer, I know how to tell the truth.
Truth telling and being vulnerable is what writing is all about.
And writing to you, to invite you to attend workshops
feels particularly vulnerable to me.

Now I know that some of you aren’t even considering
taking a writing workshop right now. Some of you can’t
even imagine going to a weekly class, whether it’s in
Amherst, Massachusetts, or via teleclass, or online.

And to consider taking a whole week to travel
all the way to Abiquiu, New Mexico for a retreat
there feels like taking a trip to the moon.

I accept that as a given.

But some of you might feel differently. Maybe you’ve
had an experience with writing that changed your world,
and you know you long to touch that place again.
Maybe you’ve never written before but your soul is so
hungry that you have to do something…
even if you’re tired and the laundry isn’t done yet.
You have to take care of this part of you, or some
other part will die.

Or maybe you’re just curious. Maybe you wonder
what would happen, if you sat down to the blank page….

So let me tell you a story.

When you come to one of my writing groups, you sit
in a circle. Even if you’re writing on your own, as
part of an online class, you’re part of this circle.
And the whole world, and the universe itself, holds you,
when you sit in this circle. The earth itself is part of the
circle, and she gets healed just a little bit, with
every word you write, and so do you.
At the center of this circle, is you.
Your own soul. Your own heart. Your own life.

And the center of that circle is where you find what it means
to pray, with words, for all that you hope for, all that you
dream of, and also for all that you’ve lost, and mourn for.
Everything, all that matters, is part of your writing.
And the gift is, all that you never knew you had in you,
starts to come out.

It happens when you take the action of putting your
pen to the page. Or fingers to a keyboard.
Your life starts to change.

Listen deeply to yourself. Do you need to write, right now?
If so, what is stopping you? What would it take to
give yourself the time and space you really need?

I leave you with the words of poet William Carlos Williams,
talking about his own experience with the healing
power of writing:

“That’s the way writing often starts,
a disaster or a catastrophe of some sort,
as happened to me….And I think that’s the basis
for my continued interest in writing, because
by writing I rescue myself under all sorts of
conditions, whatever it may be that has upset me,
then I can write and it relieves the feeling of distress.”

Listen to your heart. Feed your soul. Read a poem
this week, then read it again, out loud.

Author's Bio: 

Debora Seidman is an award winning playwright with an MFA in Creative Writing. She leads writing workshops and retreats in Massachusetts, New Mexico, and online.