My 9th grade English teacher loved to talk to ants.
Each time one of us answered a question incorrectly, Mrs. Atkinson would walk over to the window and lean out, mumbling to the ants below while shaking her head in disgust. It was her way of showing us how frustrated she was that we didn’t understand something she was trying to teach us. I’m sure she thought she was being humorous.
But, honestly, it just made us feel dumb.
Over the course of the schoolyear, most of us became unwilling to answer her questions at all, and we dreaded the possibility of being called upon randomly. Which one of us would be next to be publicly shamed with the ants?
As much as I loved English, and had both enjoyed and excelled in every other English class I had taken to that point, I felt intimidated and inadequate in her class. And my grades showed it.
Each time I put words on paper, I second guessed myself. I edited, revised, and started over completely several times before I had the courage to finally turn in a final draft. I say draft because it would inevitably be returned to me with so much red ink that it looked more like a painting than a work of literature.
It took me a long time to regain my confidence as a writer. It’s amazing how those negative experiences stick with you and stifle your creativity.
In recent years, I’ve become bolder with my writing, reminding myself that Mrs. Atkinson and her ants are no longer critiquing my work. I know that my writing isn’t perfect, but I’ve embraced my right to express myself, imperfections and all.
So, when I stumbled across the book Writing Down Your Soul (Amazon Associate Link) by Janet Conner, it opened up yet another window for me.
Soul writing isn’t meant to be read by others, which gave me permission to write freely, without fear of judgement from myself or others. It allowed me to uncover thoughts and desires that were buried deep within my soul.
Writing down your soul is more like having a conversation with your creator. Conner describes it this way: “Once you start engaging in rich, deep conversations with something higher, bigger, deeper, and wiser than yourself, you’ll find yourself contemplating ideas you’ve never considered, saying things you’ve never said, and asking questions you’ve never asked.”
The author also believes that engaging in this type of writing for 30 days straight creates new neural pathways – which can change the way we think.
If you already enjoy the benefits of regular journaling, then it might be an interesting experiment to experiment and see what happens over the next 30 days with your writing.
A word of caution though: don’t expect a series of a-ha moments. Conner describes the process as a “layered discovery that reveals itself page by page over time.”
Happy soul writing.