I’ve decided that I’m missing a certain passion in my writing because I’m afraid to write about those things that make me feel passionate. It is a scary feeling, the feeling of passion and I don’t like feeling out of control. I wish I could go back to relinquishing control once in a while. I have built such a fortress of acceptable behavior around myself that I’m not sure when it’s ok to act out. Acting out in writing is probably ok, but even after years of therapy and over one year of weekly therapy specifically focused on recognizing my emotions and letting myself feel them, I am still afraid of them and afraid to let myself act as though I feel.
One of the writing exercises mentioned at the Foothill College writing conference I went to this past summer is to list the things I am passionate about, choose something from the list and write on that topic. I will incorporate this into my therapy by adding my own important requirement, reflection.
In therapy we have been discussing my recent successes in situations I normally avoid, namely confrontations. I avoid them, even small ones like sending an email about something not working properly in our building, because I expect them to turn nasty. I expect people to disregard me, be annoyed, see me as a whiner or say nothing and simply act passive-aggressive toward me. None of this, to my knowledge, has happened recently, but I don’t feel strongly that the confrontations have become easier.
My doctor reminded me that it takes time to undo years of habit, but also that I should be taking the time to reflect afterwards on how well the situation went and how good it feels to have the problem solved because of my direct action. I owe this to myself considering the amount of time I spend dwelling horribly on things when they go wrong; it does make sense to spend a good amount of time working the opposite angle. Wouldn’t it be great to allow myself to obsess for a day over something that went well instead of distracting myself with negative thoughts?
So my plan is to apply this principle to writing passionately. I will not only write about topics that evoke emotions that terrify me, I will take the time afterwards to marvel at the accomplishment and remind myself that I am not hurt, no one died as a result of my feelings and that most likely I have written something wonderful that will speak to my readers more deeply than what is safe.
When you do something that scares you, do you take the time to reflect on what went well afterwards? Do you have techniques to keep your writing infused with energy?