Meeting Yourself Where You’re At: A Gentle Approach to Writing
Teaching Fellow Claudia Wilson shares the importance of meeting yourself with kindness in your writing practice. You can learn more in Meeting Yourself Where You’re At: A Gentle Approach to Writing, taking place online Saturday, March 25th, from 10:30am-1:30pm (EST).
Meeting myself to write has become an amalgam of gathering strength from other writers, positive self-talk/kindness, and going back to my intention as a writer. To be honest this is all still a work in progress. I am not a master of this though it is my aspiration.
Using kindness to meet yourself.
I’m leaning on the hope that writing offers the opportunity to tell important stories. I have important stories to tell, and I must survive to do that. To tell the stories that matter, you must keep finding a way to yourself. You must show up. Kindness is a way to meet myself, and practicing kindness has been a long, hard journey. Our world is surrounded by critique, accusation, and blame. Have you ever gone to write something and then listened to your mind as you do so? What I’ve heard is: Can you do this? Who do you think you are? You’re not good enough. These accusations diminish you and your writing. Sometimes they start small and then get bigger. I’ve learned to practice kindness with my mind, and you can do the same.
To make this happen you’re going to need a strategy.
Meeting Yourself Where You’re At: A Gentle Approach to Writing will focus on building strategies that cultivate kindness while also observing writers who have written about the writing process. We’ll focus on what we can glean from their writings on the topic and then we’ll try to practice strategies that help us. Say I’m about to write. Before my mind gets going, I write an affirmation that supports me: “I am worthy of writing.” I post it next to me as I am chugging along, I look up at it when I hear that critical voice. I read it and it holds me as I write.
If you invite the community, wherever you are, you are not alone; and there is a way for something creative to happen.
Also, I begin to channel others who I believe would wish me well as I write. I learned this from my meditation practice. I come in the name of my 4th grade teacher who told me I could do the math problem, or my friends who constantly tell me to believe in myself, and when I’m really feeling low, I come in the name of Pablo, my cat, who licks my ears and shows me his belly. This is the strategy. I invoke the names and works of writers that I read a lot. Once, I asked a famous writer how she keeps coming back to the hard work of writing poems, and she replied by telling me a scripture that says, “Wherever two or three are gathered together there I am in the midst.” Meaning that if you invite the community, wherever you are, you are not alone; and there is a way for something creative to happen.
We will acknowledge and write with the writers we bring with us into a space.
This workshop will ask us to acknowledge the writers that we bring with us. We will also consider a few writers, namely, Akwaeke Emezi. We’ll explore one concept that Emezi offers us in Dear Senthuran: the binary separation of “doing” from “being.” How do we write with an integrated self, not in the binary of just doing? When you only become your “doing” there is no relationship with your “being.” When there is no positive relationship with your being, the impetus to write withers. When I am steeped in doubt, I have to practice coming back to my intention. What initially made me want to write when I didn’t have the MFA program, accolades, or books? It was my firstborn self with something to say. I have to remember her.
You are worthy of telling the stories you want to tell. Your pain is real, but you are more than your pain. Your sadness is here, but your joy is too. You are worthy to tell the stories that are important to you.
“How can we stay integrated?” We get to tell ourselves who we are repeatedly. When I utilize these tools, the path to myself gets more worn and easier to take. By writing an affirmation, you begin to make a way to yourself: You are worthy of telling the stories you want to tell. Your pain is real, but you are more than your pain. Your sadness is here, but your joy is too. You are worthy to tell the stories that are important to you.
Ready to meet yourself with kindness? Sign up for Claudia’s upcoming class Meeting Yourself Where You’re At: A Gentle Approach to Writing, taking place online Saturday, March 25th, from 10:30am-1:30pm (EST).
Hi, my name is Claudia Wilson. I'm a poet and writer: ( They & She). Here's my formal bio: I'm from Cleveland & Columbus, Ohio. I studied English and Black Studies in college. I'm a social worker and I received my MFA from UMass Amherst. I'm proud of the venue/spaces where I really grew as a poet namely Columbus, and Boston ( Writer's Block, Cantab, and House Slam). These spaces have greatly contributed to my creativity and community. I'm a VONA fellow and TWH ( The Writer's Hotel) graduate, and soon to be apart of the Juniper Institute. My chapbook is called GROWN 2019 from Game Over Books Press. My forthcoming book is called Searching for Afrekete. I've been published in Winter Tangerine and Mass Poetry. I'm a recent Mass Cultural Council Recipient, Academy of American Poets finalist , and Sara Patton awardee. Due to my previous work I think about trauma-informed practices and I am happy to offer sessions on this, too. I am interested in the conversations and spaces that poetry offers me. My ambition for myself is for poetry to live as theory and praxis. June Jordan, Sonia Sanchez, Audre Lorde, and Toni Morrison are the writers I return to. I find that my poetics center around conversations of past black or QTPOC writers to deepen my relation to the present and how I observe the world. I'm not a fan of the essentialism of genre. I think we're all writing towards something and that genre conventions can be useful, but should not always be required. I am queer, black and Trans. I am also still learning.See other articles by Claudia Wilson