Today’s Conscious Living exercise focuses on making joyful connections with other people, but let’s turn that around to look at our relationship with our writing.

The way many people talk about relationships makes you wonder why anyone would have one. Relationships are difficult, they are hard work. You have to compromise constantly. You have to “put up with” your partner’s opinions, habits, or idiosyncrasies.

A lot of writers talk about their creative work the same way. The two most common quotes you’ll see on social media about writing are:

  • “There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.” ― Ernest Hemingway
  • “I hate writing, but I love having written.” ― Dorothy Parker


Now, I love Dorothy Parker, the person and the writer, and upon a time, I have quoted that line of Hemingway’s, but should we keep repeating them?

The phrase from our beloved Mrs. Parker highlights the conundrum of many a writer – we love to feel a sense of accomplishment or to receive the accolades of our peers (and maybe a check), but the effort of writing? Not so much.

But does it have to be that way? I love writing. I wish I could write creatively all day, every day. Even when I encounter plot blockades or language that’s not working, I know I’d rather be writing than doing anything else. I am most authentically myself when I write, even if the work isn’t successful, even when it’s not finished, even if no one will ever see it. I don’t have to write today. I get to write today.

Hemingway’s quote, of course, references the creative act of exposing your inner self to your readers, but it’s a violent image nonetheless. It implies pain, suffering on behalf of your creative art. Who wants to write on intimate subjects if your visual cue is slashing your wrist?

Creating can be intimate without pain. You can reveal yourself without feeling gutted if you open from a place of joy, even if you write about ugly experiences. Even if you write about trauma. Instead of imagining your past on display for a gawking audience, visualize a reader who needs to know what you’ve experienced, survived, and learned, because she is going through the same thing right now. Write as a way to communicate with a new member of your tribe and it may feel less like a bleeding.

If I could wish anything for any of my fellow writers, it would be that you experience the same kind of peace I feel when I write, that you get satisfaction from the act of creation and self-expression, regardless of any outside reward.

I wish you joy.

If you have a difficult relationship with your creative practice, set aside some time today to consider how you’d feel if you changed your way of thinking about it. Approach your writing as a gift, not a chore or a surgical procedure. Consider how happy some people will be when you share it.