Rus VanWestervelt and Authentic Writing
I’ve got a few secrets to share with you. Some of them you will absolutely devour with delight and, perhaps, even blush a little at the fact you hadn’t figured them out for yourself long ago. They will clear the path of most of the debris that’s been keeping you from writing authentically all these years.
The other secrets, though (and we’re talking one or two at best), will trigger other feelings entirely. You may resist, deny, or even strike back at first. That’s understandable. After all, we don’t break through brick walls with plastic hammers and toy drills, now, do we? At first, we look at those walls and see them as permanent, impenetrable, perhaps even necessary to keep us on that other path, the safe one that keeps us poised comfortably in our lives to just get by.
As good as you might feel about learning those first secrets (and you will feel very good), there are few words to describe the freedom, courage, and confidence that you will experience when you break down those final walls and begin to write authentically.
All this from the comfort of your favorite chair, or leaning against your favorite tree in the back yard, or sipping your made-to-order latte at your neighborhood cafe.
Not too bad, huh?
I have been writing authentically since I was 12 or 13, when I first wrote personal essays on love and the necessity of embracing life fully. I wrote in daybooks and diaries, on napkins and matchbook covers, at all hours of the day. I let nothing stop me from capturing my life—and the way life interacted with me–in words.
These days, I’m doing whatever I can to unlock those secrets in writers and “non”-writers of all ages. After I received my MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Goucher College in lovely Downtown Towson, MD USA (my hometown as well), I took to the streets with pen and daybook in hand, teaching memoir, personal essay, reportage, and immersion journalism to anybody who thought they had a story to tell.
And that, friends, is just about every one of us.
So here’s the first secret. Are you ready?
You never have to share a single word you write. Ever. With anyone.
That’s right. YOU are in control of who sees your words. Just because you write something down, it doesn’t mean the world is going to judge you, condemn you, or even spit at you. The world will never have to know that you even put pen to paper. The writing you do is for your eyes only.
So until we meet again, try this. First: Treat yourself to a book devoted totally to your words. Maybe a small book that fits in the back of your pocket, or a large blank book with 200 pages is more your style. It doesn’t matter at all, as long as it fits you, and as long as it is dedicated solely to your words. No shopping lists, no course work, no notes to others about the fridge shutting down and the ice cream melting on the bottom shelf. This is Your book. Your words. Your rules. Your eyes.
Second: Write every day. A little something about you. It doesn’t matter how long or how deep. Just write. Start with a favorite color. Beverage. Store. Pair of socks. It makes no difference. Just write, and know that no one else on the entire planet will ever read these words unless you let them. I’ve decided to share my daily writing (at least some of it) in my blog, which you can read at rusvw.net/blog. Remember, though: this is what I choose to share! I’ve got daybooks stashed in every pocket, glove compartment and bookshelf available and at the ready for a thought, entry, or rant.
Time to get that book and get writing. (And shhhhh! I won’t tell anybody if you don’t!) Good luck, and feel free to email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions as you begin your new and authentic journey!