“When I’m not writing enough, I lose track of what I believe, who I am, and who I truly want to be.”
—Rachel Thompson

Dear listeners! As I’m getting back into the swing of setting up interviews with guests for the podcast, I’m finding so many people are burned out from Zoom that it’s harder to secure guests. I’ll get there, but it’s taking a bit more time.

So, for this episode, I thought I’d go solo with reflections from my writing practice. It’s an episode with a heavier emphasis on the writing and shining part of this podcast title.

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Write, Publish, Shine Episode 57 Transcript

Dear listeners! As I’m getting back into the swing of setting up interviews with guests for the podcast, I’m finding so many people are burned out from Zoom that it’s harder to secure guests. I’ll get there, but it’s taking a bit more time.

So, for this episode, I thought I’d go solo with reflections from my writing practice. It’s an episode with a heavier emphasis on the writing and shining part of this podcast title.

I’ll start with a story. I used to live with an extrovert who had a really, really looong phone-a-friend list.

Each time she reached a crisis/decision point, she would whip out her speed dial, book multiple coffee dates, and stay up for late-night video calls with the farther-flung in her support network.

I really envied this person. Like, really envied.

I felt like my introversion and inherent social, hmm…let’s call them challenges, kept me from the guidance I needed to weather through hard times.

Through many obstacles in my personal life, or when I had weird feelings publishing my first book, then when I had weird feelings about writing (and not writing) my next book, all of these times, I felt really alone.

When I longed for what my friend had, I didn’t recognize the precious gift I had as a writer.

Eventually, I noticed this person was more confused and despondent after taking on so much differing advice. Despite the abundance of her friendship circle, she had scant clarity about what she wanted after these interactions.

It took me a while to see how the solution to my yearning for support was there front of me.

Spiritual Leader Pema Chodron writes about “cool loneliness”—the ability to “look directly with compassion and humor at who I am.” Practicing cool loneliness, she says, teaches us that feeling alone is no threat and heartache, no punishment.

When I write, I get to examine and let go of who I think I should be, who I want to be, and who I think other people think I should be.

As in the midst of this vaccinated pandemic life, I have had many awkward social moments and truly stressful interactions where I don’t feel connected to myself and who I am.

And each time that happens, I realize I haven’t been writing enough. I’ve missed the opportunity to practice my “cool loneliness.”

When I’m not writing enough, I lose track of what I believe, who I am, and who I truly want to be.

And no survey of advice can tell me this.

This means the work I do in creating a writing community is motivated not just because I know writers need other writers for emotional support. Yes, it’s super helpful to connect with other writers who share similar goals, struggles, understandings.

But that’s not the core reason for the work I do.

The community is, in many ways, a means to keep us writing; the writing itself allows us to connect with ourselves, to weather hard events. The writing  gives us clarity (and a richer, more fulfilling life).

Search online for the solution to feeling lonely. I don’t know about you, but I definitely do this when I’m feeling lonely. If you do find yourself searching these terms, notice how so many of the solutions to loneliness can be solved through reflective writing:

  • Give yourself time to feel your feelings. I can do this by writing about them.
  • Get out of your head. And onto the page.
  • Write down what you’re grateful for.
  • Reach out. To your past, present, and future self.
  • Stay present. I find writing from the senses (describing, what my character tastes, hears, sees, or touches in a moment) grounds me into the present moment.
  • Practice self compassion. I so often see myself (and others) with more kindness when I write.

I am wondering how you’re doing in this time with your own self connection.

Are you writing enough to foster “cool loneliness” and feel a sense of ease with yourself? If you’re struggling, you’re not alone. I hope you can remember and practice all the things that help you weather this time in your life.

By the way, writing to be read is next level in combatting loneliness. I helps us do all of the above PLUS, readers feel less lonely because they feel seen in the experiences, the secret longings, thoughts and feelings of your characters/narrators.

Related to this self-connection talk and cool loneliness, I am removing myself from the social media equation for six months.

Of course you know all the reasons why a I might make this choice. You most likely have contemplated this yourself. Either that or you’re already are off of social media and wondering what took me so long.

Last year, I had so many boundaries around my use of Instagram and Twitter. I used anti-distraction software to limit the times I could go on it. I had software so I could optimize and schedule several posts at once. I even had support creating congratulations posts for members in my course and membership community each time they published their writing. (Thank you, Tamara Jong!)

I had a strategy, a schedule, a cadence that was working and building moment. I was posting with intention. I guess I thought social media was something I could “win” at?

It didn’t matter, because all of this work never stopped social media from draining my attention. Several times a day I mentally composed posts.

I’d be out in on a beautiful desert and thinking about how to share this beauty, but not in my writing and my own form of choice, in the format provided by these companies. (X many characters, these hashtags.)

Most days I felt like I was forgetting to do something, like I left a door open. The open loop in my brain and nagging feeling never left me. What if someone walked in that open door? What if I missed something important?

I want to insert the caveat that social anything can cause these loops and nagging flashes of feeling I’m missing something. Or, rather, I want to insert this, but having read so much about how social media is changing everyone’s brain, I know it’s not just neuroatypical me affected.

So, I’m going on social-media hiatus until June. I haven’t decided to quit outright because I still live in this world and know I might need to participate in this system to survive. Let’s just say I’m keeping that particular door open.

My hope for the next few months is that my mind will concern itself with questions of structure, sentences, similes and other craft elements of my writing instead of posts and likes.

I have painted a bleak picture of social media, but I will also miss things. I had meaningful interactions with writers (mostly on Instagram), I learned a lot of important things (mostly on Twitter).

But I already have been continuing meaningful interaction with writers in my membership community, Writerly Love. And I am reading more books from Black and Indigenous writers this year to continue learning from these communities and supporting their work. (No surprise, the learning I’m doing through reading is deeper, more reflective.)

So, where are you at with your writing and your self-connection. Are you feeling that cool loneliness? I always love to connect with listeners. Since I’m not on social media, if you want to connect you can email me: hello@rachelthompson.co.

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