News Thoughts

The Art of Writing For Yourself

My second cup of coffee steams next to me, as I fall into contemplation of my last weeks and months. My hands rest on the keyboard, while my gaze frequently turns to the left, to watch the rain fall, to hear the drops steadily pattering onto the glass roof. I repeat this almost meditative procedure over and over; I take a sip, I place down the cup, my fingers fly across the letters for a few lines, I retreat to listening to the weather’s melody. A regular April day in North Germany, when the grey clouds seem impenetrable, and spring still is a faint memory.

However, a transformation takes place. Something is sprouting, even if not yet visible, it is tickling the environment, and just as much it is tickling my mind, making me curious, almost impatient. Making me move forward.

Alright, I am getting poetic here, and to be honest I am writing this more out of a feeling than out of a goal.

No, wait. Actually, this is exactly my goal.

In a recently reoccurring motivation to put thoughts into words, to draw pictures with the help of language, to bring order into my messy mind, I decided to go a level deeper – and write about writing. Who knows where that will end up (… at the end of this page, duh).

And, as life sometimes plays, I barely phrased the title, when the topic of writing seems to appear from every direction. It is part of heartfelt conversations with friends, of new job assignments as well as applications I send out, of an online journalism course I’m currently attending, of books I’m diving into.

write for yourself

A rebirth in black and white

At a time when writing is how I’m generating my income, I often yearn for putting that pen down and that laptop away at the end of the day, and be only with books, music, movies. My diary looks at me reproachfully each night, but opening it and expressing all the things occupying my mind feels like a threat rather than a relief. Consequently, my recent entries are each two weeks apart, halfheartedly trying to connect events and places and people and feelings, without going into more detail. Always starting with a frowning “aiaiai, I really need to sit down more often”.

Considering I’ve been consistently journaling since I’m 14, this is a bad turn-out.

Considering this blog used to thrive with one to two posts per week, while the last one was written in January – oh dear.

Someone hand me a red wine glass filled with inspiration combined with a well-aimed slap in the face, please.

But something changed within the last few days. Most of all, I really decided to pull myself together. I saw myself doing the same things, rather inefficiently, day-in day-out, without making any remarkable progress. And if you consider I just made the biggest investment of my life in form of a van I’m in the process of converting (HOLY SHIT), I can’t be lazing around.

By doing this – and frankly, buying this beauty was way more an intuitive than a rational decision -, I set myself a challenge. One that lately has overwhelmed me a lot. I mean, seriously, what was the last time you dealt with Volts and Amps and Watts and electrical circuits and figured out what kind of solar panels should charge what size of a battery?! #nerdalert

I have to admit (well played, Christina), I don’t really have an option to give up and drown myself in hot chocolate and Netflix. After some serious discussions with my now significantly lighter bank account, I kicked my ass. Anyone of you who ever started a project, a freelance career, a journey by yourselves, knows – it is way harder to build yourself, instead of someone telling you what to do.

I feel ya, I’m right there.

write for yourself

About thriving and finding my drive

Writing enables me to see my own thoughts.

Yes, I meditate. And before bed, or during those outdoor-gazing work breaks, I often ponder about current life events. But you see, this repeatedly goes to a point I notice myself thinking in never-ending circles, not finding a way out. By writing, and re-writing, and throwing everything over, and writing again – I can suddenly see the entire circle in front of me and put a period at its end; I can be sure it’s a finished thought process, and suddenly find the secret door leading to the next higher level.

Now, it is combination of slight but significant changes that broke a dam, and had my words flowing again, slowly slowly. Apologies that I’m now not going to blow your mind with revolutionary motivation bombs. But this is working for me.

I work out a lot. Alternating running, workouts, and yoga. Almost every day.

I eat better. Let’s be real, chocolate is my absolute downfall, but I limited myself in the last week. And while I was grumpy the first days, I now lost 2,5 kg and feel less tired and brainfoggish.

I read. I finally got some of the books that have been on my list from before the invention of e-readers (not that I have one). Novels, biographies, other writers sharing their advice. The good stuff that lies on your bedside table, that you can’t wait to finally pick up at the end of the day, devouring one page after the other of perspective-changing lines that temporarily take you into another world.

I write. Yes, a lot for my job (just sent in my third article for Hostelworld, hooray!). I write my diary again, and (duh, surprise), feel lighter, my mind feels more spacious.

A re-discovered form of communication

And I write to friends, slightly abandoning random text messages that barely contain any depth, but filling an entire blank screen or page with the proper stuff. Earnestly spilling my mind. No emojis and LOLs and GIF-conversations.

Two of my closest friends and I opened a shared Google Presentation, giving each of us space to write and insert images, and a way to share updates beyond our messy group chat.

What is the last time you dived into your thoughts and wrote them down to share with someone?

If you aim at explaining and expressing for someone else, it is a different experience as if you would write for yourself. And you know what? You don’t even have to hit send. Just imagine yourself to be writing to someone, it will help you to get down to the nitty-gritty details you might usually cheat yourself around somehow.

write for yourself

The many levels of writing

I look at my empty cup, it is time for a last round of coffee, to finish weaving the “red thread” as we call it in German.

The rain has stopped, and my gaze instead drops to the conveniently placed word count within my text editor: 1146. A smile crosses my face, as I realize that I barely noticed all these paragraphs accumulating.

Writing for me has not been as easy as in this post in a while. I’m happy I have found the right setting to get here, even if the last weeks were very challenging. And this is why I want to encourage you to accept the challenge, whichever it is that is currently building up in front of you. Give it a face, and a name, by connecting the necessary words. It will make it so much easier to estimate its volume, and look for that next door to take.

Personally, I now see this. I wrote my first blog post in ages about writing. All at once, it is a kick-off and a promise, it is a relief. It is an update, and somewhat like a guideline. It is therapeutic for myself, and maybe, inspiring for just one other person out there.

Most of all though, it is me, an active me, and that is all that counts.

Spring is just around the corner, after all.


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1 Comment

  • Reply
    April 14, 2018 at 8:46 am

    This is a really beautiful piece of writing. I agree – it’s so hard to step away and do something for yourself, when that something also pays your income! I’ve kept a journal since my mid-teens as well and may not write every night, but I do write four or five pages every Monday whilst I do my laundry. Throw a matcha latte into the mix and it’s turned into quite a nice ritual, one I look forward to.

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