What Does It Feel Like to Be a Writer? With Melanie Chitwood
It’s easy to feel like everyone else has this writing thing figured out. Sometimes it helps to get a glimpse into other writers’ lives to find assurance we’re on the right track.
We hope this series, which will give you insights from writers with a range of experiences, will dispel some myths and show you how your feelings are probably like others.’
I’ll get us started.
As long as I can remember I’ve had some kind of notebook tucked in a handy spot. I can’t get away from scribbling thoughts on a piece of paper. Writing feels true and right. I constantly gravitate to it and don’t want to stray too far from it. Writing feels like coming home to a place I love.
While writing feels like the comforts of home, at the same time, writing feels uncomfortable.
Let me explain the contradiction.
I didn’t grow up thinking I wanted to be a writer. I was satisfied with my written words being mostly for me.
It wasn’t until my late thirties that I started writing publicly on a blog. I mostly wrote devotional blog posts about how I was learning to submit to God’s refining process.
Much of the refining process came through challenges in my marriage. For the first part of our marriage, Scott and I, while loving each other deeply, could not get on the same page and figure out how to love each other best.
I began to write vulnerably about our marriage challenges on my blog. I put those honest posts out with some fear and trembling. What would people think of me when I revealed glimpses into our less than perfect marriage? Especially since I was a Christian who didn’t seem to be able to figure out the Christian wife thing.
That’s what made writing uncomfortable—the vulnerability.
At first, writing vulnerably—in a way where I invited my readers into my work-in-progress life—felt like jumping into a shockingly ice-cold river. I just wanted to get out, dry myself off, and not take that plunge again.
Yet the more I wrote the more I saw that writing vulnerably created connection with my readers. It encouraged readers also to be honest about their struggles. They were able to share their imperfections, no longer hiding but letting God’s light shine on their lives.
I became committed to prayerfully considering which revelations would benefit my readers and then was willing to unveil them in my writing.
Letting others into my Christian journey with its ups and downs, not just the finished journey where I’ve finally figured things out, was the type of writing I became committed to.
So I keep plunging into that cold river, even when it takes my breath away. There’s something about me that wants to connect with readers over those less than perfect parts of life. That’s the way I’m wired to write. Over time I’ve found that the cold doesn’t feel quite so cold, the vulnerability doesn’t feel quite so uncomfortable.
That’s how I feel. You nailed it, Amy. I want to let it out, and when I do, it feels right. The rest of the time, I’m worried that someone I know might actually read my blog and find out hidden truths I don’t want them to know. That is not authentic writing. When I let the shields down, that’s when I enjoy writing the most and when (I hope) I connect with my reader most. They can tell the difference.
Thanks for your response, Suzette!
I especially like what you said about readers being able to tell the difference.