“Writing is something you do alone. It’s a profession for introverts who want to tell you a story but don’t want to make eye contact while doing it.”John Green
Today is Ash Wednesday – the beginning of the 40 Days of Lent. The past few years, I’ve re-examined and re-arranged many aspects of the Catholicism I grew up with. But this practice I still maintain. The ritualistic structure is perfect – just enough of a guideline to help this particular intuitive creative take a step back, reflect, meditate, and grow.
No matter what your faith, or lack thereof, there is something both grounding and other about setting aside a few weeks solely for contemplation and reflection. It’s tempting to make fun of giving up chocolate for 40 days, but every journey begins with a small step. I think my fast from social media – a fad in recent years – is one that may prove particularly fruitful for me this year.
Every day, social media bombards me with information – some important, a few useful pieces, and mostly trivial tidbits. When you already have 20 tabs open on your mental computer like I do, this constant influx of un-curated information is a drain on my mental health, my emotional health, even my physical health. It has certainly adversely affected my writing health.
Over time, I constantly felt mentally exhausted, wrote less often, and what little writing I did was bland and uninteresting. The constant ping of social media has eroded me into a less vulnerable writer. And a writer who isn’t vulnerable on the page will not reach the audience that desperately needs that vulnerability and authenticity.
Most importantly, I can’t reach myself if I lost that vulnerability. And twenty years ago, the point was to write for myself, for the sake of writing, for the mere fact that I could not NOT write. Whether anyone else ever read what I wrote never even crossed my mind.
And it’s time to find that vulnerable writing space again.
A member of the Water Street Writers, Mikaela D’Eigh is a writer, poet, and lover of Scotch. She lives out in the country with two Egyptian gods disguised as cats, a herd of cows, and a flock of wild turkeys. Check her out at La Belle Dame Merci and on Medium for more articles, poetry, and shenanigans.