"UNPACKING" YOURSELF IN YOUR WRITING
Kely Sarmiento wrote: "I'm writing about experiences I've lived through. It's hard because the problem is not writing, it's facing myself and putting myself out there, being vulnerable. I start writing, and it's like I open a Pandora's box. I can't seem to finish the frigging thing because I want to put everything in there. It's this "all or nothing" dynamic—I tiptoe around myself, work on the corners, the edges and all around. I don't go to the core of it all. It might be about having the patience to somehow "unpack" myself, but how do I do that when I have a storm inside me that is screaming to be put somewhere? It certainly feels like I have to write or else I'll go nuts, but at the same time I'm not accomplishing much."
Dear Kely, thank you for this. This is beautiful, what you wrote. So here is the thing.
There is no fast and easy way to do this, and if you bite off too much, you might get overwhelmed and quit altogether. It's like with any skill—you've got to begin by doing simple, little things. So I'll list for you three techniques that worked for me, and perhaps they'll help you "unpack" yourself and your inner turmoil, and get it down on paper.
- START SMALL.
To expand on what I said above. Start with writing down one sentence a day. Just one. But make it every day. It could be anything. Give yourself freedom to write nonsense, or something that seems silly, or overly dramatic, or outright stupid. Who cares? This is for you to get comfortable with writing every day. Like building a new habit. Then, when this becomes second nature (you can even set it up in a calendar at a certain time every day so it reminds you), you can increase this to two sentences. Then to three, and so on. I can guarantee you that one day you'll sit down to write and won't be able to stop at a few sentences, then you'll sit back a couple hours later, stunned, having written a whole page, or even more.
- DESCRIBE YOURSELF AS AN OBJECT.
Pretend you're something you love. A flower. A glass of wine. A bar of chocolate. A kitten. A dream. Anything that gives you pleasure to think about. And now describe yourself as that object. Let's say you're a flower. So every day write a little bit about a petal, and keep adding petals, until you have the whole flower complete. My metaphors were pretty bloody when I did this, so I'm not recommending them (unless you can stomach something like that, then by all means write about yourself as quartered and gutted, with your entrails steaming). This kind of writing will give you necessary distance, until you'll feel comfortable enough to get close to your emotions and write about them as is.
- WRITE ABSTRACTLY.
This helped me a lot when going through therapy. Instead of being literal, I stayed abstract. I'd create concepts about my feelings, as though they were ideas and not feelings at all. Don't write about exactly what you feel, and don't write about it metaphorically. Write about it as though it's a theory, something that doesn't have a physical form, a nebulous thing. This will remove you even further and allow a bird's eye view at yourself. You're the goddess observing a woman feeling things and theorizing on what they might be. If you go up higher, farther than this, you might lose connection with your emotional core altogether.
In a sense I'm describing various POVs here: first person, third person, and omniscient. You can tackle it from both ends: start visceral but small, or start bodily removed but vast. Either way will lead you to the middle, and then down to your core.
Once you're comfortable with this, you can move down deeper. But be gentle. If you force yourself too hard, you might shrink back and throw up your arms and call it quits. So take little steps, BUT TAKE THEM EVERY DAY. Can you do that? If you build a habit out of this, eventually your fear will go away, and you will "unpack" the rest of the beauty that you showed above already. I can't wait. Wishing you all the patience in the world, and if you have any more questions along the road, holler.
I'll hold your hand, and all the writers here will do too. Right, loves?