When I officially launched this blog last March, one of the toughest decisions to make was the title for the blog.
If you've started a blog, or website, or similar project, you get this, right? Sum up all your hopes and dreams for the project in one teeny phrase.
I knew some of what I was looking for: I wanted it to be happy. I wanted to talk about the kind of writing life I had just started to explore—what I most wanted to grow into.
I tried everything. For a long while, this blog was almost subtitled, "Pursuing the Merry & Wild Writing Life."
I loved the idea of an unusually joyful approach to writing. Merry, for sure!
And I also liked not fitting so neatly into a box, not being so darned meek and quiet about our writer selves. Being fierce in our creativity. More than a little wild.
Merry & Wild. Close. But not quite there.
When I hit on the term lionheart, I knew my blog had met its destiny.
Because when I say lionheart, I don't just mean "courageous person" (although of course that's part of it). The word has absorbed a host of other senses, elements, and ideas.
And so when I say I aim to be a Lionhearted Writer, it's shorthand for all the traits I'm aiming at.
The entire bag of tricks that make up my exact ideal way to be a writer.
... And since I'm obsessed with definitions, I thought maybe it's time to lay that definition out completely.
For the month of May, we're going to explore everything that goes into being that kind of writer.
It's the anatomy of a lionheart!
And just so we're clear: When I say lionheart, I of course mean you, me, and the hundreds of other writers who are reading this post. There are a lot of us.
Get ready for some roaring.
So! Lionhearted writers! Let's do this! Let's break it down!
Where to start? With something really quiet, small, and incredibly powerful.
The lionhearted writer trusts herself.
It seems like a little thing, but the more I think about it—oh, is it valuable!
Let's back up: Recently my younger sister and I were talking about Brené Brown, and how she's the coolest ever, and how we're both diving into the material she's created, and how much we loooooooove it.
My sister recommended her talk on trust, which I hadn't seen yet. And when I did, I was blown away.*
I loved the talk. (And as soon as you have twenty-four minutes available for awesomeness, you should go listen to it!) She defines trust, the elements that go into it, how it's built, how it's destroyed.
But the thing that made my eyes open twice as wide, and start talking back excitedly to my computer screen, and then tell everyone else about it—was right at the end.
When she talked about applying all those trust-building skills to yourself.
Are we trustworthy to ourselves? Do we honor our boundaries and do what we say we will? Do we take good care of our more vulnerable secrets, do we treat ourselves with generosity?
I started applying that to myself, of course, with general life stuff. But then I asked another big question:
Do I trust myself as a writer?
For the first eight years or so of writing full time, I was the poster child for NOT trusting myself.
I essentially treated my creativity, my writing impulses, and my time, with utmost distrust and suspicion.
I worked in a panic. (Just to be clear, this is a very unpleasant way to work. Please don't do this.)
Of course I didn't trust myself! I didn't even want to. I was too new at this, too ignorant, so (I thought) how could I have anything in myself worth trusting?
I had too much to learn, and not enough time for it. And I never wanted to give myself time to learn. Ever.
I had no faith in my instincts about how I needed to work. Instead, I was terrified that I wasn't challenging myself enough, so I pushed super hard—then burned out.
Scraped myself back together and pushed to burnout again.
Um. It wasn't a healthy cycle.
All I had to show for it—after years—was a bunch of bruises, a total lack of faith in myself, and a lot of that time (which I was so scared about wasting) gone.
Now I think that if I had taken the time to actually listen to what I deep-down knew I needed, trusted it, and acted on it, I'd have a whole different story!
Here is what I know: It is scary hard to trust yourself.
Especially when you're new at this... but I'm guessing it's going to be hard for a while longer than that. (Heck, right now, I probably trust myself 65% of the time. HUGE for me, but definitely not to 100 yet!)
It is hard to get really quiet and still and ask yourself: Okay. What do I need next? It's even harder to believe that the answer is a good one!
And it's hard to not just freak out all the time.
But no matter how uncertain it feels, I promise that it is worth building trust with yourself.
And I don't mean the screaming, freaking out, panicking part of you. (That part needs a hug and then a whole bunch of chocolate chip cookies and then a fuzzy blanket. But its screamed suggestions probably don't need to be followed.)
The truth that I've been stepping into lately, is that I understand a heck of a lot about how I need to work, what I need to be saying, and how I need to say it.
The same thing is true of you. (Even if you're brand new to this!)
There's a part of you that does understand how you work. And even might hold some clues about how you work best.
That part of you.
I'm serious. Get a notebook, take some deep breaths, and just ask that deeper, wiser, word-loving part of you: What do I most need in my writing life right now?
New resources, or time to play? A creative date where you go and wander and don't have to talk to anyone?
A different project? A crazy-fun class? A group? Or alone time?
Just listen in. Listen deep and listen long.
Find those gut instincts, and then trust them.
Show up for that part of yourself. It's something we all need—including me, for sure—to do more often.
... Oooh, what if once a week, we took fifteen minutes for this. Listening, writing down notes, just checking in.
And then, we acted on the good stuff that bubbled up about the direction of our writing.
Wouldn't that transform your approach to your work? What you work on? How you approach social media, marketing, all of that?
Again, I'm not talking about the million lists that all of our busy brains could frantically generate.
We're seeking that deeper, intuitive understanding.
If you're more extrovert style, I love and respect you: do this in your marvelous extrovert way. Maybe you'll want to grab a close friend who gets this kind of writing/creative lifestyle, and talk it through.
But however this looks for you, find a way to give your instincts a lot more trust. Let them make the call. Steer by them for a while.
That could be the key to a transformational amount of amazingness.
* Yep, I only just realized that Brené Brown's talk is called The Anatomy of Trust, though somewhere in my head that must've stuck. ... Which is probably why "The Anatomy of a Lionheart" struck me as a great series title!
Haha! Thanks, Brené Brown!!